Feature Article of Saturday, 24 November 2012
Columnist: Bonsi, Frank Henry
Coastal Sand Winning: Machiavellian Means Of Making Money
All over the world governments spend millions of dollars in tackling their environmental and coastal problems. In Ghana the government had contracted loans to build sea defense walls along some coastal communities in the country. This is a measure to protect coastal communities from being destroyed by sea erosion as a result of tidal waves and rise in sea level. Though climate change is one of the major causes of coastal erosion indirectly caused by human activities, there are more directly linked root causes which the government and stakeholders must tackle with a sense of urgency.
Sand winning and galamsey operations along the coast are causing havoc to the ecosystem with respect to the coastal lands. Even though our country is not noted for ocean disasters like tsunamis and cyclones, the sand along the shore protects us from strong storm surges as it serves as a storm energy buffer. With a rise in sea level, it is anticipated that storm surges and tides may hit many coastal lands around the world. If this sand is scooped away our coastal communities will be devastated if such a disaster should ever happen in Ghana. This in effect is going to cost the nation economically, socially and environmentally if nothing is done about it immediately.
Communities like Aidan and Amanfrom on the eastern side of the Cape Coast Castle are some of the places where coastal sand winning is gaining grounds. My visit to the place revealed that locals especially the youth and some few children are seriously engaging in these illegal activities in the full glare of the public. The sand are bagged in fertilizer sacks and packed just by the road side for trucks to cart them away. With about ?50 or ?95 one could get about 80 bags of sand depending on the size of the fertilizer bags. This illegal activity serves as a form of income for the youth apart from fishing which is their main occupation. There is also a small block factory which makes use of the sand from the shore which is in turns sold for money. These degrading activities can be said of many coastal communities along the coast of Ghana.
I think, these illegal operators enriching themselves and endangering a whole community is tantamount to causing financial loss to the nation. This is because government will have to cough money to resettle these communities in case of a disaster. There is also going to be a decline in revenue from ecotourism, since the beaches will be destroyed and drive investors away.
The E.P.A, the environmental unit of Cape Coast Municipality and other stakeholders should check these illegal activities and discourage it; else the country will be spending a lot of its limited resources in managing the aftermath of these illegal activities than preventing it. I think arresting and persecuting them will serve as a deterrent but educating them to understand the consequences of their action will solve the problem from its root.
BONSI FRANK HENRY