Water For 5m At Stake, Don’t Mine Bauxite In Atewa Forest – Group
An illegal artisanal gold mine on the edges of the Atewa Forest Reserve. Source: A Rocha Ghana
A group calling itself the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape, has urged government to abort its decision to give out the Atewa Forest Reserve for bauxite mining, saying water supply to over five million people will be affected. According to the group, some three River bodies namely; Ayensu, Densu and Birim, that supply parts of the country including the capital city, Accra with water, will be affected if mining of bauxite is allowed in the forest.
Member of the Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape last Saturday began a six day walk from the Eastern Region to Accra in protest of mining in the Atewa forest reserve. The 95 km walk dubbed: “Atewa Walk For Water” is currently in its third day and will end on March 22, 2018 after which they will petition the presidency and other stakeholders.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Monday, Leader of the group, Daryl Bosu, said although they are not against mining, they want the forest, which has a lot of tourism potential to be protected. “Water supply to some 5 million people is at stake and we cannot afford that because we want to do bauxite mining at all cost at every place, so whether it is good or bad, we will do it. We don’t always have to mine every place because we need to mine. There are certain development measures we have to put in place.” “For a place like Atewa, providing water should be a priority for all of us. So we need to align it with development that is also compatible with the water provision service, and that is what we are saying. We are not a group against mining bauxite per se, but we are particularly against mining bauxite because of the water provision services. That is very key to us. One of the areas that need to be off the list of government mining prospects is the Atewa forest,” he added.
He also used the Awaso Township in the Ashanti Region where bauxite mining has been done for the past 70 years as a case study to buttress his point. He complained that there is currently nothing to show for the over 70 years of bauxite mining at Awaso. “Aside the destruction of green vegetation in Awaso, their water bodies were adversely affected due to the bauxite mining. I want you to go to Awaso and see the state of the communities there. 78 years of bauxite mining yet the communities are in deplorable state. You will weep when you talk to the people over there. Their water body is called Awa, but they can no longer use it. That is why we are saying that we don’t want this to happen to Atewa,” Daryl Bosu added.
The group’s protest comes on the back of a $15 billion agreement signed between a government delegation led by Vice President Dr. Alhaji Bawumia in 2017, and some Chinese investors to mine bauxite at Atewa in the Eastern Region and Nyinahin in the Ashanti Region. The group is of the view that the deal is not in the best interest of the country and should be halted.