Monday, September 7, 2009

RESETTLE US...Farmers call on Newmont (GRAPHIC NSEMPA, PAGE 14)

By Samuel Duodu, Sunyani

Fifty representatives from Manu-Shed, a farming community and its evirons in the Asutifi District of the Brong Ahafo Region, have called on Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL), operators of the Ahafo mine, to resettle them as a matter of urgency.
Their call for the resettlement has been necessitated by the numerous problems that mining activities by Newmont in the area had imposed on their livelihood, health and the environment.
According to them, following the onset of the activities of gold mining at Manu-Shed and its surrounding communities in the Asutifi District, they have been experiencing water pollution from waste materials of mine, cracks in their buildings as a result of blasting, dust and noise, the prevalence of mosquitoes, and other safety concerns from the company’s vehicular movements.
“While we anticipate early response to our demand for resettlement, we call on the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Newmont, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission and the Asutifi District Assembly to take immediate steps to address the perennial water pollution, blasting, mosquitoes, noise and dust pollution in the communities”, they demanded.
The call was made in a demand statement after a two-day community-training workshop organised by the Livehood and Environment Ghana (LEG) in collaboration with Both Ends, Global Greengrants Fund and Third Network-Africa in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Regional capital.
Other participants who attended the workshop were from these communities; Tailorkrom, Amankonakrom, Akorekrom, Akurekrom, Tanoso, Afrisipa, TechIre, Yamfo, Bisi, Kenyasi, Hwidiem and Ntotroso.
The workshop was aimed at discussing the problems of mining, community rights and strategies for addressing the environmental and social challenges of mining.
The group stated further that the colour, smell and loads of sediments even in the water from the bore-hole provided by Newmont, raised serious concerns about the quality of drinking water for the people living in those communities, especially Manu-Shed and its environs.
They said the indiscriminate blasting by Newmont was creating cracks in their buildings as well as causing sickness, anxiety, fear and trauma, especially among children in the communities, adding that the incidence of child convulsions resulting from blasting-related fear had been on the increase.
“Mosquitoes used to be a seasonal problem in the area. However, nowadays mosquitoes are prevalent throughout the year. It is no longer possible for people in the communities to sleep with their doors opened as it was the case, prior to the commencement of gold mining activities”, they said.
“We have lost most of our fresh vegetables and green leaves to dust pollution. During the year, they are often coloured with red dust resulting from activities of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited”, they added.
According to the participants at the workshop, they were also concerned about the safety of community members who had been exposed constantly to the risk of accidents from speeding vehicles of the company.
They mentioned that they had made these concerns known to Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who had turned deaf ears to their complaints and they found it difficult as citizens of Ghana to continue to live under such inhuman conditions in the name of foreign direct investment.
“We are therefore calling on Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and the relevant government institutions to take immediate steps to address our concerns and resettle us in areas that give us hope for survival and better quality of life”, they said.
The group added that they were united in their determination to defend their rights and to expose those problems until they got solutions to them and called for solidarity from like-minded individuals and organisations, especially the media to articulate their concerns and echo their voices.
A visit by this reporter to the communities confirmed the concerns raised by the communities affected by the mining activities.
Officials at the Envornmental Department of Newmont, told this reporter that the communities had been provided with boreholes and water tanks and efforts were being made to address the other concerns.

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