The Ada Traditional Council (ATC) has appealed to the government to clamp down on the activities of illegal salt miners to protect the Ada Songor Salt Project.
The Council said the situation had far-reaching implications for the health of the Songor Lagoon, the viability of the project and the socio-economic development of the area.
Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III, Paramount Chief of Ada Traditional Area made the appeal during a call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House, Accra, on Monday.
He was at the head of a delegation of Chiefs and Queen Mothers to apprise the President on matters relating to the general development of the Ada Traditional Area.
Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III, who is also the President of the ATC told President Akufo-Addo that since the government granted the license for commercial investment in the salt project, the area had seen progress in the development and commercial production of the mineral in the Songor concession.
He said since the inception of activities in 2021 by Electrochem Ghana Limited, the investor in the project, Songor had seen “a massive facelift and revamping to the admiration of all well-meaning people of Ada and Ghana as a whole.”
Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III thanked the President for the “bold” decision that led to the granting of the concession amid the controversies that surrounded the Songor Lagoon, saying, “There is hope for Ghana's salt industry.”
“Salt production has increased tremendously both in quantity and quality as Electrochem is revamping the national asset to produce 1,000,000 metric tons of first-rate salt per annum to serve both the local and export market.
“We are very hopeful that the efforts made so far will lead to further improvements in the salt industry in Ada and contribute to the national economy,” he said.
Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III, however, noted that while the Ada Songor salt industry was seeing positive development, there was a need for State intervention to boost the project.
He said the activities of illegal salt miners were a serious hindrance to the progress of the work on the project and a threat to the investors' operation in the concession.
Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III described the situation as unacceptable to the people of Ada and appealed to the President to use his office to support the traditional area to curb the menace of illegal salt mining.
“The harm this illegal salt mining activity poses to the Songor Lagoon is far-reaching. Creating the enabling environment for the operations is critical if the current progress is to be sustained.
“We, therefore, call on the Minerals Commission and related agencies to take the necessary steps to evacuate illegal operators. We do not think this should be left to the company or the traditional leaders alone.
“Your excellency, help us have the state security agencies act swiftly to curb and bring to order those in the Ada traditional area who have taken the law into their own hands and have total disregard for the law,” he said.
Nene Abram Kabu Akuaku III assured the President of the commitment of the chiefs and people of the Ada traditional area to ensure that the Songor salt project was successful.
“We are not going to turn back the clock of progress. We will offer our unflinching support to all efforts by your administration and the investor, to ensure that the investment is sustained,” he said.
On his part, President Akufo-Addo was happy that the chiefs and people of Ada had realized the enormous benefits to be had from the Songor Lagoon salt project.
He pointed out that the benefits of the project, which transcended the Ada area, had the potential to make a major contribution to the economic fortunes of the country.
The President cited Nigeria's export of salt from Brazil to meet its one-million-ton market demand and said the development of the Songor project was in the interest of Ghana.
He urged the chiefs to lend the needed support to the investors in the project.
On the request for state security for the project, President Akufo-Addo assured the traditional council that he would take the matter up with the security agencies to ensure that “miscreants, people who do not have the welfare of the community at heart, but only their individual pockets are brought to book and disciplined.”
He said that illegal salt mining, like all other forms of illegal mining, must be curbed to protect the environment.
The President accepted a request by the chiefs to visit the project site and to participate in the annual Asafotufiami festival of the area that comes off on August 3, 2023.