The Member of Parliament (MP) for Asutifi North Paul Okoh, who criticized the state of buildings constructed at Ntotroso in the Brong Ahafo Region by Newmont Ghana Limited to resettle people affected by the company's mining operations in the area, has commended the company for its Livelihood Enhancement and Community Empowerment Program (LEEP).
The legislator said, the company's decision to improve upon the water supply systems, provide technical and vocational training program for the youth as well as upgrade the Kenyasi Health Center into a fully-fledged hospital to meet the health needs of the communities is highly commendable.
He is however hopeful that Newmont would get the needed cooperation from the people particularly the youth to have a business friendly atmosphere to do its work.
The MP at a forum organized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess a proposed mining project by Newmont at Kenyasi, last year, had some difficulties with the type of houses the company was putting up to resettle those affected by its operations.
He openly declared, "If the buildings are really not kitchen, but rooms to accommodate people, then it needs to be critically looked at well," he charged and called for "a proper and standard rooms" for the resettlement programme.
Newmont subsequently revised the resettlement-housing package making all bedroom sizes 120 square feet. The implementation of the revised package led to partial demolition and remodeling of several houses in the Ahafo Concession otherwise known as the Ahafo project area.
The people accepted the new package though the Resettlement Negotiation Committee, which includes their representatives, governmental agencies such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Land Evaluation Board, District and Regional Town and Country Planning Agency and officials of Newmont, had earlier agreed to the previous sizes during the negotiation process, which was in accordance with Ghanaian building regulations. According to the old plan, apart from the bedroom (120 square feet), the rest were 90 square feet.
The MP told the Network Herald in Kenyasi Number Two at the launch of the Newmont's LEEP which is aimed at improving the socio-economic status of the people, that he was happy about the revised resettlement program. He however expressed the hoped that Newmont will not become one of those inhumane mining companies which leave irreparable damages in the areas they operated. .
On the LEEP initiative which was designed by Newmont in partnership with the Asutifi District Assembly and Opportunity Industrialization Center International (OICI), the MP said he would personally ensure that Newmont does not become one of those mining companies which promise the people heaven only to leave live them in abject poverty, because their farms and other means of the livelihood had been taken away completely.
He said as a Member of Parliament for the area, he would personally monitor the company to ensure that it is accountable to the people by adhering to its promises since lots of mining companies "have come to Ghana and made promises without fulfilling them".
He further pledged to ensure that Newmont after the prospecting in the Ahafo Concession leaves his constituents with employable skills, adding, "It is a very good thing and if they are able to do it, I will be very happy."