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Regional News of Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Chinese miners invade River Tano Basin

Life in the Brong-Ahafo Region can now be described as very dangerous for inhabitants, because their major source of drinking water, the Tano River, is under serious attack by activities of illegal miners.

The Tano River, which serves as the only source of water which is treated by Ghana Water Company and supplied to the Sunyani Municipality and its environs, Techiman Municipality and its environs, as well as Hwidiem, Acherensua and Goaso – all in the Brong-Ahafo region has its quality and existence endangered due to the invasion of some Chinese illegal miners.

To ensure something drastic is done to save the Tano River from being endangered, some concerned people of Tanoso in the Tano North District took to the streets and demonstrated against the pollution of the river and raised alarm for the concerned authorities to urgently intervene.

A leading member of the demonstrators, Kwaku Ben, indicated that the Tano River needs urgent protection without any delay from the security agencies in the country, because aside indiscriminate pollution of the river, aquatic life which has over the years been a source of attraction to the river is seriously threatened.

He alleged that a Chinese company has been given a concession to operate a surface mining alongside the river and that the operation of the miners at stream Tanoso, specifically Adongo village, has affected the quality and colour of the river. According to Kwaku Ben, the Tano River, which is the main source of water for the Ghana Water Company, in the Brong Ahafo Rergion, if polluted, would be a great disservice to the very existence of the majority of the people in the region.

However, the chief of Tanoso, Nana Asare Barfour Awuah, in an interview denied any knowledge of leasing the land for the mining operations. He, however, disclosed that he has consulted the District Chief Executive of Tano North, Mr. Apraku Lartey, who said the District Security Council was meeting to decide on the issue.

On his part, the DCE for Tano North, Apraku Lartey, admitted the change of colour of the water and possibly the quality of the Tano River, due to the activities of illegal miners, saying the District Security Council met on the issue and subsequently has informed the Regional Security Council. He, however, declined giving details of measures put in place to curb the situation, due to security implications.

According to Mr. Apraku Lartey, the Tano North District has not given any permit to any Chinese mining company, but narrated that in the year 2012, some companies applied through the Mineral Commission for a permit, which process was ongoing. He said a few days after the application was submitted, the Assembly was informed by the people at Tanoso that they had witnessed some excavators invading the Adongo village.

Mr. Apraku explained that when the issue of excavators me up, the Tano North District Assembly invited the EPA and the Mineral Commission, which has its office in Bibiani in the Western Region, but supervises mining activities in Brong-Ahafo to resolve the issue. Soon after the meeting, he had information that illegal mining activities had commenced at the Adongo area, alleging that some individuals from the area had given out their farmlands to the illegal miners.

However, the Akyeamehene of Bechem, Nana Okofo Dartey, on whose family land the said mining operations are taking place at Adongo claimed to have denied the Chinese miners the use of the land, when they approached him. He, however, raised some doubt as to how the Tanoso Chief’s Linguist and the Queen mother agreed to perform some traditional rites for the mining operations to begin.

Meanwhile, a former Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr. Ernest Akubour Debrah has given a strong indication that the people of Brong-Ahafo would not sit aloof for the Tano River to be destroyed. “In 2001 when I was appointed the Regional Minister, the Tano River had dried to the minimum level, so water was being transported from Berekum to supply the people of Sunyani due to excessive farming close to the banks of the Tano River.”

Mr. Debrah continued that in rescuing the situation and protecting the Tano River, all District Chief Executives within the region where the Tano River passes were tasked to plant trees along the banks and instituted a law prohibiting people from farming 300ft left and right of the Tano River. He reiterated the call for an urgent intervention to curb the illegal mining activities along the Tano River and its protection to serve the good people of the region as expected.