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19.09.2005 General News

Youths halt BGL activities for six hours

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Prestea (W/R) Sept. 19, GNA - The unending strife between Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL), a subsidiary of Golden Star Resources of Canada, and the Prestea Community raged on Monday as angry youths besieged the Company's premises at Prestea and halted its operations for six hours. The youths, who acted as pickets, blocked the road and the main entrance to the offices of the Company and went on to the pit forcing the workers to park their earth moving machines.

They also hanged banners near the offices of the Company with the inscription: "Operation Save Our Environment - Save Prestea/Himan and Dumasi from the hands of Bogoso Gold Limited"; "Bogoso Gold Limited is Mining Prestea Today, Tomorrow It Will Be Kumasi or Accra"; "All Hands On Deck"; "BGL Is Killing Ghanaians Alive, Shame!"

Speaking to the GNA on the action of the youth, Mr Eric Sherwood, a resident of Akatewa, a suburb of Prestea, and a member of Wassa Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), explained that what they were doing was called 'Picketing', which was another civil way of demonstration.

He said picketing involved the use of banners, megaphones and besieging of the Company's premises to register their displeasure about BGL activities.

Mr Sherwood said since all the necessary approaches to register their complaints were not yielding the needed results, they had resorted to picketing, which they were prepared to organise daily adding that they would be doing it in batches and in groups. He continued that most of the youth were angry as a result of the blasting activities, which had caused extensive damage to their properties as well as posing serious health hazards.

Odikro Adamu, Chief of Akatewa, said the blasting activities was not only affecting the health of the community but also destroying their properties.

He said the people had been angered by an announcement the Company made on private radio stations that they had paid for all the damages whereas nothing had been paid to them.

Odikro Adamu said the Company had not paid damages the people of Akatewa suffered in November 2004 but now other suburbs were suffering similar fate and warned that they would continue with the picketing till BGL did the right thing.

A meeting was later held between the Management of the Company and some of the opinion leaders of the town at the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ben Wordui, District Police Commander. He appealed to the Leaders to withdraw the youth from the pit to enable the Company to carry out its operations. The youth later withdrew but threatened to come back if nothing good was heard from the Company.

BGL has displayed a large measure of impunity in its mining operations in Prestea and Himan.

The youth of Prestea have called on BGL, to resettle residents before embarking on their surface mining operations in the town in line with acceptable international standard practice. Mr Kwesi Blay, Secretary of the Concern Citizens Association of Prestea, told the Ghana News Agency that the blasting of rocks and dumping of waste in the town were exposing the residents to untold hardships.

He said soldiers have since 2002 been deployed in the town to cow anybody, who attempted to question the appropriateness of the activities of BGL.

Mr Blay said BGL dumped mine waste on the main road leading to the Government Hospital in the town. He said the road was reopened only when the youth protested and insisted that an alternate road be constructed before the closure.

He said for no apparent reason the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appeared unable to carry out its mandate of ensuring the well being of the residents of Prestea.

"Anytime one came out to protest against the corporate impunity of BGL, the one is branded as belonging to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). Even a former local Executive member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who decided to come out against the atrocities BGL is visiting on the residents of Prestea has been accused of having joined the camp of NDC," Mr Blay said. 19 Sept. 05

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