Monday, 6 October 2014

Akyem Tumfa's Cocoa Farmers Must Elicit WACAM's Help To Fight Step Mining Company's Impunity

The use of personnel from the security agencies, to pave the way for Step Mining Company to mine gold on farmlands belonging to cocoa farmers in Akyem Tumfa, who are opposed to their farms being taken over by the company, is most unfortunate.

It illustrates perfectly, how powerful and influential individuals in our country - who don't care one jot about the effect of their actions on their fellow human beings and the natural environment - manipulate the system  in furtherance of their personal wealth-creation agenda, at the expense of ordinary people.

According to media reports, the Hon. Comfort Nyarko, the Assembly member for Akyem Tumfa - which is in the Atewa District of Akyem Abuakwa in the Eastern Region - has stated categorically that technically the company lost the concession years ago, and that Step Mining Company is also in breach of Section 13, sub-section 3b of  Act 703.

The question then is: why is the government minister responsible for the Eastern Region so eager to coerce Akyem Tumfa's cocoa farmers into allowing their cocoa farms to be destroyed by a gold mining company that is said to be in breach of a section of Act 703? Whose interests is he serving - and why?

 Are some of our leaders so shortsighted that they are willing to see the destruction of cocoa farms, which produce cocoa beans in sustainable fashion - and the export of which remains the lifeblood of our country's economy - by carpetbaggers mining gold illegally?

 And as we all know, illegal logging is the handmaiden of illegal gold mining. It funds the operations of illegal gold miners: so in effect Mother Nature then becomes a multiple-rape victim.

The plight of Akyem Tumfa's cocoa farmers would never have arisen, if district chief executives (DCE) in Ghana were elected by local people - instead of being appointed by the president as is presently the case.

No political party's candidate for the position of DCE, having been elected into office, would have allowed the outrage now going on in Akyem Tumfa to occur during his or her tenure: lest he or she loses the subsequent election,  for allowing grassroots people unwilling to allow their cocoa farms to be destroyed by  a perfidious gold mining company, to be brutalised by soldiers and police officers.

From my personal experience of standing up to Solar Mining Company, which in effect reversed into a then bankrupt Kibi Goldfields as a legal  maneuver to obtain legal cover for its illegal gold mining activities at Akyem Juaso, Saamang and Osino at a point in time, my humble advice to the cocoa farmers of Akyem Tumfa, is to contact WACAM, the NGO that fights against gold mining companies that abuse the rights of ordinary people - and ask it to partner the Centre for Public Interest Law (CPIL),  to sue Step Mining Company,  the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minerals Commission, on their behalf,  in the law courts.

Going to court is the only way that Akyem Tumfa's cocoa farmers, who are opposed to Step Mining Company destroying their farmland in order to mine gold on it, can halt the chicanery of the unholy alliance of  politicians and public officials who are working on behalf of the powerful and influential individuals, whose quest for gold is what drives the illegal activities of companies like Step Mining Company in Akyem Abuakwa.

 Clearly, President Mahama's fight against illegal gold mining is being sabotaged by influential individuals,  in his own regime - and it is resulting in the poisoning of soils and water bodies with heavy metals, and the destruction of ecosystems across a vast swathe of the Ghanaian countryside: at a time when global climate change is negatively impacting Africa.

The presidency would be wise to ask the national security apparatus to investigate all the claims made by the Assembly member of Akyem Tumfa, the Hon. Comfort Nyarko.

 I would be surprised, for example, if it turned out that Step Mining has actually paid a reclamation bond upfront as required by law. And would the company and its promoters stand up to scrutiny by the Ghana Revenue Authority, one wonders? Ditto the Economic and Organised Crime Office? Food for thought for the presidency.

If the answer to any of the questions above is no,  then one wonders how they were able to obtain permits from  relevant regulatory bodies,  to mine gold in Akyem Tumfa in the first place.

 The time has come to smoke out all the influential individuals who manipulate the system to enable illegal gold mining to be carried out in Akyem Abuakwa and elsewhere in Ghana. The cocoa farmers of Akyem Tumfa would be wise to elicit the help of WACAM -  which will engage the Centre for Public Interest Law on their behalf to sue Step Mining Company, the EPA and the Minerals Commission in the law courts. A word to the wise...

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