Special investigations conducted by the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) into the recent collapse of buildings have revealed that lack of enforcement of the LUSPA laws by the assemblies is the major cause of the disasters.
Consequently, the authority has taken note of the lapses on the side of the assemblies and has recommended that the respective local government assemblies must be sanctioned for flouting the LUSPA Act, 2016 (Act 952) and the LUSPA Regulations (LI 2384).
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic, the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the LUSPA, Kwadwo Yeboah, charged the Metropolitan, Municipal and District
Assemblies (MMDAs) to, through the spatial planning committees, rigorously enforce the provisions of the LUSPA Act, and the regulations (LI 2384) as mandated.
Mr Yeboah, who was speaking to the report on the outcome of the recent investigations conducted by LUSPA on the collapse of structures, particularly in the capital, Accra, urged the MMDAs to be committed to the spatial planning laws.
The interview with the CEO of LUSPA was, among other things, to explore reasons behind the recent collapse of buildings and what was being done to prevent such incidents going forward.
He said spatial planning committees at the assemblies were to ensure that every development was covered by permit and carried out in accordance with an approved local plan of the area.
He said that would be a major step towards halting the continuous collapse of buildings under construction.
The country within the last four months recorded eight structural collapse in three different regions, resulting in two deaths and 62 injuries, according to statistics from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).
Out of the eight incidents, the Greater Accra Region recorded six between May 1 and 9, this year, while the Ashanti and Northern regions recorded a case each.
Acting on these disasters, LUSPA commissioned the Greater Accra Regional Director of the authority to investigate the incidents.
The LUSPA CEO said the investigative report which had been presented to him revealed that the assemblies were not performing their enforcement functions very well.
To that end, Mr Yeboah said: “We will submit the report to the Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development and indicate the lapses by the assemblies so that the minister can institute the appropriate sanctions.”
He said when any assembly breached the provisions of the law, it was the duty of the LUSPA to advise the minister in charge to sanction the assembly.
Explaining further, Mr Yeboah said Act 925 and the Regulations LI 2384 had established spatial planning committees at every assembly chaired by the chief executive.
The committees, he said, were to ensure that every development within its jurisdiction was covered with permit which it had approved for construction.
“Enforcement is very weak so if we are doing proper enforcement at the assembly level, we will not be seeing the unauthorised structures and haphazard developments.”
“That is the key responsibility because the spatial planning committees have been mandated as the planning authority within their jurisdictions,” the LUSPA CEO stressed.
Mr Yeboah, however, pointed out that some professionals at times also neglected their professional duties by not adhering to rigid professional practice.
“If you issue a permit for somebody to construct, you have to monitor.
It is the duty of the assembly to monitor from the start of the building to the finishing,” he said.
The LUSPA boss said when the person finished the construction works, the assembly must go and inspect for them to satisfy themselves that the building suited the specification before they issued the certificate of habitation.
“And the law is saying that each assembly must establish a planning and building inspectorate unit to do the day-to-day monitoring of physical development within their enclave,” Mr Yeboah said.
Citing the incident at Adentan as an example, Mr Yeboah asked why the assembly failed to monitor the progress of work when the developer did the contrary by putting up a four-storey when the permit specified a three-storey.
He, therefore, stressed the need for the assemblies to monitor construction works by stages, adding that the enforcement was key since it was at the root of the recent collapsed buildings.
Under section 181 of the general offences, anyone who breached any of the sections of the Act was liable to imprisonment or could be fined by a court.
Mr Yeboah said if a developer put up a structure without a permit and it collapsed, the person had breached the law and the assembly must prosecute the culprit.
He said because “we do not enforce the sanctions, people get away with it always”.
The LUSPA CEO said every development must conform to the approved local plan. In the plan,“ if we have earmarked a road that means you cannot put up any structure within a road, he said”.
“If there is a stream or river, we have the riparian buffer indicating that nobody should build within that buffer because it is a public space and once that is done, it is the responsibility of the assembly to demolish it,” Mr Yeboah explained.