The youth of Ntotroso, one of the communities affected by the operations of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) in the Asutifi District of the Brong Ahafo Region, have appealed to the NGGL to address the inequality that existed in the employment of the indigenes of the impacted communities.
According to the youth, the company had denied employment to many of them who had the requisite qualifications in the various fields of employment, while those who were already in employment of the company had been asked to go home.
They, therefore, called on the company to give validation forms to citizens of the town who were already in employment for revalidation, as their leaders doubted the citizenship of some of them.
They made the appeal at a meeting held at Ntotroso with the External Affairs Department of the NGGL to express their misgivings about the way the company had been handling issues in the communities affected by their operations.
Among the issues raised at the meeting were the inequity in employment, exclusion of Ntotroso's name in the company's day-to-day activities, the impasse between the company and the Asuopri community over pollution of their source of drinking water with faecal matter by the company.
Other matters were the rendering of apology by the company to the chiefs of the impacted communities for not allowing them to speak at the inauguration of the Ahafo Mine, which was attended by President J.A. Kufuor, and the non-payment of compensation to certain individuals whose lands were at the Environmental Control, Dam 2 (ECD 2) site of the company.
At the meeting, Mr Joseph Asante Ameyaw, the Chairman of the Ntotroso Youth Association, insisted that the youth of the town, most of whom possessed the requisite qualifications, had been denied employment by the company, contrary to an agreement that the local people of the impacted communities would be considered before the company looked elsewhere in its employment drive.
He also stated that the youths of the town were the least employed by the company, compared to the other communities affected by the operations of the NGGL, and that the issue had been raised at several meetings with the company, but NGGL had failed to address it, although it accepted the disparity in employment.
Mr Ameyaw said on November 17, 2006, the President, Mr J.A. Kufuor, was invited for the inauguration of the Ahafo Mine, but no chief from the communities affected by mining was allowed to address the ceremony, although they were all present.
He said the youth saw that deliberate action as an affront and a gross disrespect on the part of the company and, therefore, demanded an unqualified apology to be rendered to the chiefs so as to promote and foster a healthy relationship that existed between the communities and the company.
On the pollution of the source of drinking water with faecal matter in the Asuopri community, he said the company had asked the people in the area to go for a laboratory test at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to ascertain their health status, which they did, but nothing had so far been heard from the company, even though some of them had adverse reports from the test.
He alleged however that the company gave those affected persons bags of rice, gallons of cooking oil and an unspecified amount of money to compensate for the psychological trauma they went through.
Mr Ameyaw also called on the company to reconsider its decision, as a matter of urgency to pay adequate compensation to farmers whose lands were taken over by the company at the ECD 2 site to ease the tension that was gradually building up, since most of them had refused to vacate the land.
The Ntotroso Youth Association chairman also appealed to the company to help the community to relocate the various dumping refuse sites in the town to prevent the outbreak of any epidemic.
Responding to the issues, Mr Randy Barnes, the External Affairs Manager of the NGGL, said the company would address all the concerns raised by the youth, but urged them to understand and appreciate the efforts being made by the company to address those problems, rather than taking a militant posture and approach.
On behalf of the company, he apologised to the chiefs of the communities affected by the operations of the company for not allowing them to speak at the inauguration ceremony of the Ahafo Mine, saying it was not a deliberate action and, therefore, promised that that would never happen again.
Story by Samuel Duodu,