Haphazard Property Development and its Consequences. A Study in the Bawku Municipality, Ghana

Scientific Essay, 2016

18 Pages, Grade: A







5.0 Conclusion and Recommendations


Abstract: the paper sought to make a paradigm shift from conceptual frameworks to empirical studies to investigate the motivations for and effects of haphazard property development in the Bawku municipality. The study adopted a case study research design and made use of both qualitative and quantitative data from the field survey and literature review. The data primary data was obtained from 120 property owners, the assemblyman of the area and the planning authorities of the Bawku municipality. The study relied on both primary and secondary data. The primary data was obtained through questionnaires, group interviews and focus group discussion and the secondary data was obtained from the literature review. The motivation for the haphazard property development was categorized into property owners’ perspective and stakeholders’ perspective. From the property owners’ perspective, a number of motivation were identified including ignorance on planning and building regulations 90 (75.00%), nature of the property 80 (66.67%) and corruption 68 (56.67%). From the stakeholders’ perspective, a number of motivations were identified and ranked including indiscipline of the property owners (1st), population growth and unregulated urbanization (2nd) and logistic and capacity gap (3rd). The paper also identified a number of effects of the haphazard property development including threat to future development, destruction of the natural environment and biodiversity and poor planning outlook. The paper therefore recommended that the concerted effort of both the planning authorities and stakeholders is needed to create awareness on the need to obtain building or planning permits before commencing property development and punitive sanctions should be meted out to offenders identified including demolition of such development at the earliest stage of development, conviction, imprisonment or convictions with a fine.

Keywords: Haphazard, property development, Bawku Highways, Bawku Municipality


For a couple of years now, peace is now returning to the Bawku Municipality. The result has been that property development for residential and other purposes are on the sharp increase in a manner that invariably all pieces of land are now becoming a part of the built environment. This developmental motives of the folks is however unregulated. Houses, shops and other buildings are erected everywhere in the Municipal and the worst been at Bawku Highways. The seemingly unregulated nature of property development is threatening the true developmental layout and planning of the area. One will find a lot of notices nearly on all Buildings by an authoritative notice “stop work, produce permit by the Bawku Municipal Planning Authority (BMPA)” all over the area.

This is either a manifestation of the inability of the planning authorities to regulate property development or a shear level of indiscipline among property developers stemmed from ignorance or the refusal to obey rules and regulations. These forms of unauthorized building constructions has been known to be on the upsurge in most Towns, Cities and municipals in third world countries around the globe and Ghana is among the violent practitioners of this unhealthy planning indiscipline.

It is baffling to realize that these haphazard buildings are sited in viable lands meant for other economic uses and at worst some of the buildings are situated in areas liable to flood, buffer zones for road constructions, water courses and other disaster prone areas. Adjei (2010) rather narrowed it that these buildings were located on surplus virgin lands which were neglected by planning authorities. This is far from been right as in the case of the Bawku Highways.

In a broader view, Acquah and Harrison (2004) opined that this planning disorder is eating deep into planning status of major cities in Ghana such as Tamale, Kumasi, Accra among other emerging cities where haphazard building construction are conspicuous everywhere. Kumar (2012) rather identified a very disturbing practice where some cities demarcate certain land areas for specific developmental need yet such area are still caught in the web of unauthorized development. He noted that there was haphazard siting of land uses where agricultural lands were used for housing, residential areas on industrial lands, residential buildings on reserved lands among other disturbing allocation of land uses. The result is that these areas do not get government utilities such as electricity, water supply, roads and sewage treatment mechanisms.

Aklorbotu (2013) agrees with Kumar (2012) in the haphazard allocation of land uses when his study opined that the Secondi-Takoradi Metropolis have some of its lands reserved for future development been used for the erections of buildings and that some of the lands earmarked for road buffer zones and other community development planning were occupied with buildings from unauthorized owners.

Nearly all the haphazardly sited buildings in the Bawku Highways do not either have planning permission, development permission and or rarely environmental permits. Some of the buildings are located too close to access routes, area liable to floods and are mostly found in unauthorized locations or unapproved places.

A number of serious problems and consequences can be noted in this haphazard development which includes the waste of economic lands as most of the lands are used for compound houses instead of high rise buildings. It also creates planning and development problems as some future developments might not find suitable lands for establishment. The result has been that it gives the area poor layout and at worst threatens the area to an urban sprawl.

It is on this motivation that this research paper seeks to undertake an empirical investigation into the causes and effects of haphazard property development in Highways of the Bawku Municipality and to identify practical mechanism to stop the practice or to minimize the impact of this unfathomable planning practice.


2.1 Factors motivating the haphazard siting of properties

The United Nations (UN) (2007) conducted a study and categorized the factors motivating haphazard property development into political, physical, institutional and socio-economic actors. A similar study conducted by Ioannidis et al (2007) also categorized the factors into broad segments of administrative, legal, economic and social factors. However, in the case of this empirical investigation in the Bawku Highways, the researcher did not make such groupings and so all the factors were studied.

The United Nations (2007) rather opined that haphazard property development could be traced to unrealistic zoning regulations and unnecessary bureaucracy in issuing building permits. Owusu also identified that haphazard property development can be associated to complex legislations and Freiku (2003) asserted a similar argument that haphazard property development could be traced to complex legislations and corrupt nature of planning officials in executing their planning responsibilities. A rather different couple of factors such as lax planning policy administration, obsolete planning laws and inability of planning officials to provide realistic building layouts were advanced by Magigi and Majani (2006) to be some of the factors that motivate haphazard property development Melesse (2006) argued that lack of awareness of planning regulations could be a great cause of haphazard property development. This argument rather reflects the level of education or literacy in the Bawku municipality as most of the property owners were largely illiterates until recently. Somiah et al (2015) disagreed with Melesse (2006) when their study is Takoradi revealed that haphazard property developers had at least basic education and are not necessarily illiterate. Kings-Amadi (2004) rather stressed that low level of awareness on planning regulations, ignorance and lack of planning knowledge on the part of the property developer, bureaucratic and expensive planning permission acquisition process and shear indiscipline of the part of the property developers are the motivations for haphazard property development.

Cheema (1993) also opined factors which are political in nature and included non-enforcement of housing policies and unsustainable political will in initiate planning policies as some of the motivations for haphazard property development. Sietchiping (2000) attributed some of the motivations to be associated with location and nature of the land and argued strongly that the evidence exist where most of the haphazard property siting are disaster prone and virgin urban lands, very steep slopes, river banks in Kenya, Yaoundé and Bombay respectively.

Smith (1980) believes that one factor motivating haphazard property development has to with lack of detailed coordination of planning operation by the appropriate authorities. This view is also supported by Ali and Sulaiman (2006) who opined that another factor is discriminating regulations and public spending. High cost of land, scarcity of land, high rental charges and chronic poverty were a group of motivations for haphazard property development opined by Adjei (2010) and Sietchiping (2000).

2.2 Effects of Haphazard property development

Haphazard property development has been known to create discomfort for the inhabitants of over-crowded areas. It has been known to be distorting existing layout or planning schemes. Freiku (2003) also agrees with this when he identified that sometimes sites for public rights and places comprising natural reserves, roads, market, schools, sanitations, open spaces among could be used for personal property development. This is indeed detrimental to the development potentials of the areas.

In haphazardly developed areas, property owners have been known to violate building regulations thereby putting up buildings at certain height and altitude that threatens the safety of the inhabitants. Somiah et al (2015) opined that some property owners have been identified to be violating the National Building Regulation of 1996 by developing their plots to nearly 100% instead of the maximum stipulated 80%.

Haphazard property development creates disconformity in land use planning. An agricultural land might be used for industrial building and the vice versa in such areas. Adams (2014) opined that only about 24% of property development in the metropolis in Ghana correlates with land use planning and accordingly connotes that about 76% of such development in the metropolis are haphazardly sited. This indeed accounts for the urban sprawl in the metropolis in Ghana.

The creation of congenial avenues for squatters has been identified as one of the consequences of haphazard property development. This has also created chances for greater impacts from natural disasters. This was also opined by Adams (2012) when he identified that during floods most inhabitants in haphazardly developed areas suffer ill health. The results in most cases had led to series negative environmental impacts in the affected areas (Ioannidis et al, 2007).

Tragedy of the commons involving the blockage of safe passages meant for the general public has been identified as one of the consequences of haphazard property development. Freiku (2003) argued this better by asserting that such properties could be located in public places such ‘as schools, markets, sanitation sites, open spaces, nature reserves, parks and roads without restraint’ and cautioned that ‘this practice if not curbed has the tendency of creating both hygiene and safety related problems’.


3.1 Research Design

The haphazard property development in the Bawku Highways was investigated using a case study research design. Creswell (2007) opined that a case study becomes the most powerful research design when the researcher uses several sources of evidence in the study process.

3.2 Target Population and Sample Frame

The target population in this research paper included all the owners of property that were haphazardly sited, the planning authorities and the assemblymen in the Bawku municipality who were within the Bawku Highways jurisdiction. The property-owners were selected because they were the actual players whose buildings were haphazardly located or sited at unapproved places. The planning authorities were also selected because they are responsible for the planning responsibilities of the area and they ought to have made attempts to right the wrongs that were prevailing and the assemblymen were selected because they are the link between the community and the municipal and they aught have reported the matter.

Therefore sample frame in this regard consisted of the list of all property owners whose buildings were haphazardly located or sited at unapproved places, the development planning team, the Town and Country planning team of the Bawku Municipality and the Assemblymen within the Bawku Highways. However, the sample frame was not considered in the data collection from the property owners because there were no available records containing the list of addresses of all the property owners whose buildings were located at unapproved places.

3.3 Sample size and Sampling techniques

The sample size that was considered for study was 120 property owners, the heads of development planning department and the Town and Country planning Department as well as one Assemblyman in the Bawku Highways. The sample size for the property owners was an arbitrarily figure that was considered because of the difficulty in getting the target groups to respond to the interviews and the questionnaires. Besides most of them were not educated and it was really time consuming having to repeat a question several times before answers could be provided. The sampling techniques adopted for this study were the purposive sampling and the snowball sampling techniques. These techniques were adopted because the sample frame was not readily available. Besides, the researcher also lives in the community and knew the owners of some of such buildings.


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Haphazard Property Development and its Consequences. A Study in the Bawku Municipality, Ghana
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology  (Institute of Land Management and Development)
Bsc. Land Economy
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ISBN (Book)
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haphazard, property, development, consequences, study, bawku, municipality, ghana
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Bsc. Wuni Ibrahim Yahaya (Author), 2016, Haphazard Property Development and its Consequences. A Study in the Bawku Municipality, Ghana, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/342136


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