A ground breaking ceremony for the construction of 20 residential facilities for Court of Appeal judges in Kumasi was held on Tuesday.
Supported by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo cut the sod to signify the beginning of construction works for the accommodation facilities.
This will serve as permanent residences for Court of Appeal Judges based in Kumasi and mandated to handle cases in the northern part of Ghana.
There is a Court of Appeal complex already in Kumasi but since there are no permanent residential accommodation for the judges, they normally commute Accra and Kumasi to handle cases.
The Court of Appeal complex, initiated by President J.A. Kufuor’s administration was completed in 2008.
Before then all appeal cases had to be heard in Accra.
Once completed, it will mean that appeals from Upper West, Upper East, Savannah, North East, Northern, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Western North and Ashanti Regions will be conveniently heard within a much shorter period as judges will be permanently stationed in Kumasi.
The President continued, “With the collaboration of the Ministry of Local Government and the District Assembly Common Fund, 20 townhouses and a guesthouse are being built to be used as permanent residences for Court of Appeal Judges based in Kumasi, who will be mandated to handle cases in the northern part of the country.”With the project set to be completed in eight months, it will mean that appeals from Upper West, Upper East, Savannah, North East, Northern, Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Western North and Ashanti Regions will be conveniently heard within a much shorter period.
Recounting a statement he made in his Message on the State of the Nation, President Akufo-Addo noted that the government, through the Ministry of Local Government and the District Assembly Common Fund, has commenced, in an unprecedented initiative, the construction of 90 courts with accompanying accommodation for judges across the country, to help address the problem of inadequate court infrastructure.
These structures are at advanced stages of completion.
“Government will continue to implement policies to advance the rule of law, and, thereby, reinforce the confidence of the people, and shore up our nation’s reputation as a country governed by the rule of law”, he added.
For his part, the Chief Justice, Justice Kwesi Anin Yeboah, also reiterated the challenge faced by the service with accommodation for the judges in the regions.
He said the introduction of the judicial reforms and the resultant needs to implement various interventions to improve access to justice to the citizenry necessitated the appointment of additional judges and magistrates.
“Unfortunately, the availability of decent residential accommodation nationwide has resulted in a serious accommodation deficit,” he said.
As a result of the housing deficit, he said the judges of Court of Appeal empaneled to determine appeals emanating from the Ashanti, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions, “have been compelled to operate on itinerant basis and this has an effect on speedy disposal of cases not to mention the high logistical cost involved.”
Justice Yeboah said since 2008 when the Court of Appeal was commissioned in Kumasi, accommodation for judges has been a major problem to date.
He said as part of the solutions, the government in 2011 commenced the construction of two bungalows to accommodate Court of Appeal Judges in the region.
However, he said the project stalled and the construction till date, has been uncompleted.
He expressed appreciation to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II for providing the service with the land for the project, free of charge.
The CJ also paid glorious tribute to the former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama for her support in ensuring that the project got the needed support.
Local Government Minister
The Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Mr Daniel Kwaku Botwe, said the ministry through the District Assembly Common Fund, was sponsoring the construction of the project to provide accommodation for the judges in the region.
He said Parliament has already approved the funding for the project which would cost GH¢76,575,937.00 and would be completed within a period of eight months.
The project is a gated community of 20 units of four-bedroom town houses with boys’ quarters, a swimming pool, a guest house, a club house and a tennis court.
It would also have another gated community of six units of three-bedroom houses with boys’ quarters, a parking lot for the directors and other supporting administrative staff of the judicial service.