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14.04.2008 General News

WEIJA LAKE UNDER THREAT

By Stephen K. Effah - newtimesonline.com

ACTIVITIES of stone winners within the Weija Lake Afforestation Project not only threaten the lake, but also could further aggravate the water crisis confronting residents of the Accra Metropolis.

The stone winning which is characterised by dynamite blasting, has led to the destruction of a vast proportion of trees planted by the British American Tobacco Company three years ago to protect the lake.

The destruction of the trees could result in the drying up of the lake and thus affect water supply to the Accra metropolis and beyond.

To stem the stone winners’ operarations, the Weija police last Friday arrested 10 of them who will be put before court this morning. They include William Kofi Asiavor, 62; Michael Kwaku Lagbenetu, 35; Alfred Kwasi Bonsu, 72; Mensah Ziggy, 52; Kwasi Dortumor, 60 and Norweh Sododzi, 45.

The rest are Felix Dordzi, 28; Suzzy Dogbe, 28; Lucy Osabutey, 49 and Maa Awo, 32.

Briefing the Times on Saturday after a tour of the plantation, the Weija District Police Commander, DSP John Animpong, said the forest belt was created years ago to protect the Weija Lake which is the source of drinking water for the over three million people in the Accra metropolis.

He said the people were arrested upon a tip-off on Friday while they were blasting stones inside the plantation, an activity which threatens the lake as well as the portion of the newly constructed highway near the plantation.

The stone winners’ activities have created big gullies of about 15 to 20 feet deep in the plantation and destroyed a number of the trees. They have created a road through the plantation used by trucks to load their stones.

DSP Animpong told the Times that those arrested claimed that the area was released to them by the late Weija Chief, Anto Nyame, and that the stone winning had been their main source of livelihood for many years.

'We will not tolerate those whose activities will threaten the Weija Lake,' he said, noting that the police will be patrolling the area regularly to stop the stone winners from operating.

He urged the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to immediately intervene to ensure the sustainability of the lake, since its destruction would have serious repercussions on people in the Accra metropolis and beyond.

The Weija Afforestation Plantation has also recently come under severe threat by the increasing encroachment by traders, fishermen and estate developers. Some churches have also been using the plantation for crusades and prayer sessions.

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