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12.05.2005 General News

Tension At Benso Over Loose Guard Dogs

By Graphic

Trouble is brewing between the management of Benso Oil Palm Plantation (BOPP) and members of its surrounding community following the use of guard dogs to secure the plantation.

The mounting tension turned violent on March 17 when personnel of the Delta Security Company, in-charge of the plantation's security, unleashed giant dogs on a 34-year-old farmer of Adum Banson, Mr Kofi Lokko, who was returning from his farm.

Mr Lokko sustained serious injuries from the attack and had to be rushed to the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital for medical attention.

Since then the people have complained about numerous instances when dogs had been let loose on residents, who used the footpaths through the plantation to and from their farms.

The people also claim that the company has erected signposts on the footpaths the residents use to their farms, some of which indicate that the company will not be responsible if anyone who uses those paths is attacked by dogs.

The people's insistence on using those paths, which are often the only ones to their farms, has led to many instances of confrontation between the local farmers and the security dogs.

In their latest show of anger, the people, through the Kyidomhene of the area, Nana Kofi Pira, have cautioned that if the dogs were not removed, the people should not be held responsible for any retaliatory action they take to ensure their safety.

While the chiefs of the area have urged BOPP to withdraw the dogs and open the footpaths for farmers in the area to have access routes to their farms, the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) has called on the management of BOPP to compensate the affected farmers.

In a statement signed by the general secretary of GAWU, Mr Samuel Kanga, the union urged the BOPP management to also settle all the medical bills of the affected farmers.

The corporate relations management of Unilever Ghana Limited, Ms Vicky Wireko Ando, refuted the allegations that dogs had been let loose on farmers in the area.

She said the case of Mr Lokko was an isolated one and explained that the company took him to hospital for treatment immediately after the incident.

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