14.10.2004 Regional News

Enforce social responsibility package in WAGP project - Communities

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Aboadze (W/R) Oct. 13 GNA - Participants of a day's forum on the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) project have appealed to the World by the project.

The participants drawn from Aboadze, Abuesi, Shama, Awona Beach, Takoradi and Sekondi made the request at Aboadze on Tuesday. The participants included a four-member delegation from the World Bank, chiefs, assembly and unit committee members, opinion leaders, non-governmental organisations and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

They however appealed for more education on the WAGP project, to prepare the communities before work starts. Nana Kobina Attom II, chief of Aboadze said the successful implementation of the project is expected to result in an effective electrical supply, less bills and the establishment of cottage industries.

He appealed to the consultants and contractors to employ more indigenes when the project begin.

Nana Attom stressed that the development of the affected communities would be rapid and thereby minimise migration among the youth. Mr. Kwasi Prempeh, Community Relations Representative of WAGP said the project would be conducted in a socially responsible and ethical manner to secure and protect the health of Ghanaians and the environment.

He assured that the construction of the pipeline would not affect fishing since the pipes will "lie firmly on the sea bed and not suspended in the ocean."

Mr. Prempeh stressed that automatic fire suppression, burner management and valve shut down systems would be installed to minimise adverse impacts of potential hazards on communities and the environment to the four beneficiary countries.

He said a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) would pay cash compensation, relocate or resettle affected communities whose lands may be acquired for the project.

"RAP, where applicable is a World Bank requirement that must be satisfied for credit guarantee," he explained.

Mr. Thomas E. Walton, Safeguard Co-ordinator for Africa Region of the World Bank and leader of the four member team said the World Bank will provide a partial risk guarantee of about 50 million United States dollars.

The guarantee is meant to make the WAGP project attractive to private investors.

He said the delegation would visit all the beneficiary countries to assess if the local people are involved and have adequate knowledge of the project.

Mr. Walton said a final report from the delegation would be sent back to the World Bank before the project commences. He said about 700 kilometres of pipelines are expected to be laid in the project.

Mr. Walton assured the participants that the negative impact of the project was very minimal, adding that the environmental impact of crude oil would be greatly reduced when gas becomes available. He assured that gas is cheaper, reliable and would guarantee industrialisation.

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