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19.01.2006 Regional News

Two communities resist resettlement


Etwebo (W/R), Jan 19, GNA - Two communities in the Sefwi-Wiawso District in the Western Region have pulled out of a resettlement agreement reached between them, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Chirano Mines Limited.

The pull out was due to what they termed "ill-treatment and injustice" towards them.

Etwebo and Akoti, who had earlier agreed to migrate from the concession of the mining company after a series of sensitisation programmes by the EPA, which brought to fore the dangers that the activities of the company posed to their health, have resolved not to vacate the communities for various reasons.

A meeting held between the EPA and the two communities to find an amicable solution to the impasse, was marred by some nasty incidents after the chief of Akoti, Nana Oppong Ababio announced his intension to migrate with his family to avoid any danger.

The irate youth of Akoti, who did not take kindly to the chief's statement booed and jeered at him and accused him of betraying them, thereby holding the meeting up for almost 30 minutes. They said his statement was not what the people agreed on prior to the meeting and considered it as a betrayal of trust. This was against the backdrop that the chief and people of Etwebo had earlier disassociated themselves from the resettlement agreement. They argued that they accepted the company wholeheartedly and subscribed to the agreement with the understanding that their youth would gain employment, only to be neglected after over 10 years of the company's operation.

The communities also contended that they could not migrate and leave behind their farms and other properties they had invested their time and energies in over the years.

Nana Andoh, Deputy Director of EPA, told the communities that feasibility studies conducted before the commencement of the company's operation necessitated their resettlement before the issuance of permit. This, he said, led to a series of consultations with the chiefs and people of the communities, who eventually agreed to resettle elsewhere and wondered why the sudden turn of events.

Nana Andoh, however, disclosed that the mining company had proposed an alternative solution, where its hazardous waste dust would be disposed far away from the communities but warned that it would be a risk they would take, if they agreed to the proposal.

This was because, he explained, it was possible that these communities would grow with time to reach the areas where the waste would be dumped, which would thereby expose them to serious danger. Chirano Mines is prepared to construct new buildings for the people at where ever they will resettle.