Concerned citizens of Atewa Landscape group have called on government of Ghana to immediately designate the Atewa Forest as a National Park instead of nursing plans to begin bauxite mining in that forest.
The atewa forest in the Eastern region is home to the headwaters of three important rivers in Ghana.
Speaking on behalf of the social group at a press conference held today at the international press center, Accra, the Public Relations Officer of the concerned citizens of landscape, Oteng Adjei stated the Atewa Range Forest, which is the source of water for over 5 million Ghanaians, is a ‘NO GO’ area for bauxite mining. The evidence from all existing bauxite mines in the world, show that bauxite mining is, and can never be compatible with a watershed like Atewa.
According to him, these green investments will preserve the water bodies and livelihoods for millions of Ghanaians. Remember, despite the mining of the various minerals in the country, cocoa still remains the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy.
We will not make a mistake of allowing the rhetoric of ‘we will do responsible mining’ destroy our right to good quality drinking water. As we have noted, the process is, even at this early stage, already struggling with full inclusivity; how much more when the mining begins and political heads start rolling around in the short-term greed of money and corruption.
However, the social group urged government to designate the Atewa Forest as a National Park and must also relinquish its stranglehold on the Atewa Forest Reserve and allow for development partners waiting anxiously to turn the reserve into an ecotourism attraction that will rake in the quantum of money the government is claiming bauxite mining will bring, and even bring more in a sustainable way.
The PRO emphasized that serious mining activities still go on in many parts of both Eastern and Western regions with a resurging influx of foreigners to areas where galamsey was rife before the ban.
According to him, these miners may not be in plain sight, but that does not mean mining is not happening. The miners are now hiding in the thick of the forest reserves, and that is why the rivers and streams are not clearing up. We the Concerned Citizens of Atewa state without any equivocation that there is serious illegal mining still going on in the Atewa Forest Reserve and other Forest Reserves of which neither the Forestry Commission nor the Police can claim ignorance. The evidence has been well reported by the media. It is interesting to observe that we have not re-organized to halt this resurgence of mining with impunity.
This said we also ask, is Vanguard still active? If yes, have they not seen that the miners now work by night and not by day? They added.
He however added there is also a clear absence of women’s representation on the District Committees on Illegal Mining (DCIM). This lack of inclusiveness is a major flaw that is undermining the committee’s effectiveness.
The social group however called on the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to play their role in addressing the menace of galamsey.
According to the social group, Illegal mining is not only a threat to our environment and river bodies but also a serious risk to our social values, leading to the breakdown of law and order in our once value driven communities.
We need to see the NCCE information vans in our communities creating awareness on the impact of galamsey and the need for the youth to commit to education, sustainable jobs and dignified lifestyles. The education in our communities needs to be intensified and we have no doubt that, adequately resourced, the NCCE can play a significant role.