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Regional News of Sunday, 24 February 2008

Source: GNA

Kwabeng citizens protest against alleged pollution of their water source

Kwabeng, Feb. 24, GNA - The chiefs and people of Kwabeng in the Atiwa District of Eastern Region have protested against activities of the management of Xtra Gold, a mining company working in the area for allegedly polluting water bodies in the area.

Osabarima Darkwa Woe, Chief of Kwabeng and Gyaasehene of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, briefing newsmen at Kwabeng on Saturday, said since the management started operations in the area about a year ago, people in the area had contracted many water borne diseases. He said there were three main water bodies that served Kwabeng and surrounding villages but when the management begun operations, it diverted two of them to their mining site leaving one, Akomasu stream to serve communities in the area.

Osabarima Woe said the situation was made worse when the management diverted Akomasu stream from its original source to a different place thereby reducing its volume and quality to the community. He noted that efforts made by the chiefs and people to the management to provide the communities with potable water had not been successful.

Osabarima Woe said the situation worsened during the harmattan when the Akomasu stream became polluted with chemicals and most of the people had to use purified water for drinking. He said available records at Kwabeng Health Centre indicated that, since the management started their operations, bilharzia cases had increased and last year 375 cases were recorded and six cases were recorded in January this year.

Addressing a meeting with the management in his palace, Osabarima Woe threatened to stop them from operating in the area until the company provided the community with potable water. He denied that the chiefs and elders had taken money from the management hence their inability to provide the community with potable water.

Mr Michael Turkson, Mining Manager of the Company, denied that water bodies in the area had been polluted due to their operations and pledged to ensure officials from Environmental Protection Agency assess the situation.

He said management agreed with the community to provide them with a maternity block but if provision of potable water was their priority it would be considered. Mr Mustapha Boateng, Managing Director of Chocho Industry and a citizen of the town pledged to construct the maternity block and urged the management to provide potable water to the people.

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