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14.10.2008 Regional News

Cape Coast Fosu Lagoon needs dredging- As it breeds mosquitoes

By David Alan Painstil & Magdalene Sey - Ghanaian Chronicle

Lagoons are said to play a very important role in the development of rainfall and tourists' attraction, but the Oguaa Fosu Lagoon, currently one of the most polluted lagoons in the country, is drying up as result of heavy pollution.

Many promises have been made by governments to desilt the lagoon, in order to prolong its existence, but none of them have lived up to expectation, as residents still grapple with hazards from the once beautiful lagoon.

Speaking to the Central File, the Omanhen of Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, revealed that measures were being taken to save the lagoon from drying up.

He described the Fosu Lagoon as one of the biggest legacies for the residents of Cape Coast, and the Central Region as a whole.

According to Osabarima Kwesi Atta, the problems associated with the lagoon were brought to light six years ago, when the Science Department of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conducted feasibility studies on it, and recommended that the lagoon be dredged, to prevent it from being polluted and drying up.

The Omanhen explained that the lagoon had not been dredged all this while, because of financial constraints, adding that feasibility studies were still being conducted on it by the EPA, in order to assess the cost involved in dredging.

He revealed that after the feasibility studies, the dredging of the lagoon would be awarded to the same contractor who dredged the Korle Lagoon in Accra.

Osabarima Kwesi Atta told Central File that apart from dredging the lagoon, it was very important to pave the way for sea water to enter the lagoon, to purify it for customary purposes.

Additionally, he said the lagoon, which has now been covered with weeds, habours a kind of mosquito which causes elephantiasis.

He indicated that EPA had discovered that lack of the flow of sea water into the lagoon was the main cause, therefore there was the need create a channel that would enhance the free flow of sea water into the lagoon, so as to prevent the breeding of theses dangerous insects.

He said some areas around the lagoon had been demarcated by the EPA, for sand-winners to win sand there, to enable sea water flow into the lagoon. But some residents have misconstrued this idea, and accused the Traditional Council and EPA for conniving with sand-winners to win sand at the mouth of the lagoon.

He noted that as a temporal measure, to save the lagoon from more disaster, some fisher-folks in the area have been contracted by the Traditional Council to get rid of weeds, which have covered the lagoon, to make the work of contractor easier.

He said the Traditional Council was doing everything possible, to stop people from throwing pollutants from the Siwdu Garage into the lagoon, so as to save the beautiful natural scene from drying.

Osabarima used the opportunity to admonish fishermen in the area, who were opposed to the idea of contractors winning sand at the mouth of the lagoon, to exercise restraint, because that was being done to save the lagoon from drying.

He, therefore, made a passionate appeal to Cape Coasters, to cooperate with the Traditional Council as it worked around the clock to make the lagoon a better one.

It would be recalled that early this year, the EPA declared the Fosu Lagoon one of the most polluted water bodies in the country, and warned residents in the area to stop feeding on tilapia fish from the lagoon.

Shortly after this warning, the lagoon dried up completely, making the area bare.

Central File solicited the views of some residents on the idea of dredging the lagoon, and this is what they said.

Francis Swanzy-Essien, a teacher in the metropolis, said the dredging was a welcome idea, adding that it was long overdue, and expressed the hope that the move would not be a nine day wonder, as it had occurred in previous years.

Madam Matilda Tagoe, a resident, noted that the historic lagoon was a very important legacy for the people of the ancient city, and hoped that the lagoon would indeed be dredged, to recapture its beautiful scenery.

However, some fishermen who spoke to the File, also welcomed the idea of dredging the lagoon, but opposed the idea of winning sand in the area, before sea water could flow into the lagoon, claiming that the initiative would rather destroy the lagoon, and give its products a bitter taste.

They lamented that when the sea water is allowed to flow into the lagoon, it would prevent the tilapia in the water from growing bigger, emphasising that the removal of all the weeds from the surface of the lagoon, would deprive the fishes of food, since they feed on those aquatic weeds.