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03.04.2006 Regional News

"Galamsey, chieftaincy conflicts; major security challenges W/R

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Takoradi, April 03, GNA - Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, the Western Regional Minister, on Monday said the major security challenges facing the region are illegal mining, chieftaincy litigation and religious conflicts. He was speaking at the first regional encounter with the press dubbed "Meet the Press" at Takoradi.

Mr Aidoo said Regional Security Council (RCC) held series of meetings with illegal mining operators also known as "galamsey" in a bid to persuade them to cease their activities but these meetings ended in deadlock.

He said the National Security Council has taken up the responsibility to flush out the "galamsey" operators.

Mr Aidoo said he has personally paid a visit to the World Bank in Washington to request for a grant of two million dollars to address the challenges caused by illegal mining in the region.

He said part of the grant would be used for alternative livelihood programme for "galamsey" operators in the region.

Mr Aidoo said he also asked for the assistance of the World Bank to obtain solar panels for the Regional Farmers Housing Scheme and the bank agreed in principle to help.

On the recent fire incident at the Holy Fire International Church in Takoradi, the Regional Minister said he has met leaders of the Church and personnel of the Takoradi Air Force Station to resolve the dispute over the incident suspected to be arson.

Mr Aidoo said there is no question that the land on which the Church was situated belonged to the Ghana Air Force.

He said the Church admitted that it acquired the land from the Ghana Cocoa Board, which initially acquired the land from the Ghana Air Force. On an issue that some cocoa farmers in the Nzema area have converted their farms into oil palm plantations, Mr. Aidoo said land in the Nzema area is suitable for the cultivation of oil palm.

He said the farmers who have switched over to the cultivation of oil palm have taken the right decision.

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