During the vetting of Dominic Nitiwul, the Defence Minister-designate, on 11 February 2021, the question on the relocation of Burma Camp to Saglemi was revised.
See, for instance, MyJoyOnline’s Relocating military to Saglemi from Burma camp will be welcomed – Dominic Nitiwul, 11 February 2021 (https://www.myjoyonline.com/relocating-military-to-saglemi-from-burma-camp-will-be-welcomed-dominic-nitiwul/). You can also read further comments I offered on the matter to Ghanaweb, “It is not a sound argument – Col. Aboagye shoots down calls for relocation of Burma Camp to Saglemi,” 12 February 2021 (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/It-is-not-a-sound-argument-Col-Aboagye-shoots-down-calls-for-relocation-of-Burma-Camp-to-Saglemi-1178584).
The Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, raised the issue when he asked if the ruling government will consider relocating Burma Camp and other military installations. He also enquired whether it will convert the Saglemi Housing Project into a military barrack.
Whatever the reasons for that line of questioning, all stakeholders must not take the issue lightly. The simple reason is that it has serious implications for the effective management of the Ghana Armed Forces.
Much of the fundamental issues that inform the question are contained in the think piece I wrote on 4 February 2019, titled “The BAD Fire and Its Aftermath: Implications for National Safety and Security.” I am re-sharing the article to inform the current discourse.
However, on the Saglemi angle, I should point out that it is not a simple matter of converting a housing estate built as a civilian residential area into a military camp of Burma Camp’s stature. Along with Cantonments, Burma Camp has historically housed the Headquarters of the Gold Coast Military Forces until it was established as the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on 1 May 1959.
Besides the General Headquarters (GHQ), the headquarters of the three Services and, we should not forget, the Air Force Base, Burma Camp is home to a wide range of military departments and units, from operations to administration and logistics, as well as training and medical.
Burma Camp also serves as the home of a large number of families, the largest anywhere in the country. This community is supported by churches and mosques, school complexes, malls and markets.
Saglemi is not designed to house all of these facilities and will cost much more to undertake any such conversion, including the construction of new armouries and magazines for the safe storage of munitions.
Indeed, over the years, the military has been under pressure to relinquish control of its “military lands” across the country for civilian use, including for private business interests.
One such example is the Ouaddara Barracks Complex in Kumasi which 4 Infantry Battalion vacated in July 1997.
Although the Battalion relocated to Nyankyerenease near the Headquarters of the Central Command, the military continues to retain control of that military land that houses its Medical, Supply and Ordnance Units and school complex. The historic Round Jidas are still used as accommodation for civilian employees of the military.
As I concluded in the think piece, I wish to reiterate the suggestion that the Ghanaian society should recognise the vital importance of all military infrastructure and its obligation to ensure the integrity of all military real estate. That will enable the Armed Forces to maintain and improve on its mission readiness profile and posture.