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Regional News of Monday, 2 August 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Paramount chief of Yilo Krobo wants escrow account managed by Krobo traditional councils

Paramount chief of the Yilo Krobo Traditional Area, Nene Oklepeme Nuer Anorbaa Sasraku II Paramount chief of the Yilo Krobo Traditional Area, Nene Oklepeme Nuer Anorbaa Sasraku II

Correspondence from Eastern Region

The Paramount chief of the Yilo Krobo Traditional Area in the Eastern Region, says traditional leaders of the Yilo and Manya Krobo Traditional Areas in the Eastern Region are better placed to manage the escrow account which has been the subject of controversy for seventeen years.

Nene Oklepeme Nuer Anorbaa Sasraku II, said the government cannot lay claims to the account as its source of finance for the fulfillment of its responsibilities towards the Krobo people as the two traditional councils must be allowed to determine the priorities to put the GHC 13million.

The chief was responding to suggestions by the Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Kwame Acheampong who said the money which has been locked up for several years would be used to address the perennial water challenges in the areas.

The Regional Minister while addressing a stakeholders forum by the Ghana Water Company Limited in Somanya in June promised to pursue the GHC 13 million locked up in an escrow account for the Krobo people.

He, however, added that part of the amount would be used to improve the water supply in the area.

The money in the escrow account is said to have come from the royalty of limestone being mined in Odugblase.

The fund, however, has been inaccessible for the past seventeen years due to a misunderstanding between the Yilo and Manya Krobo traditional councils over the rightful owners of the concession.

"GHC 13 million is lying in Krobo escrow account and Krobos cannot access it because we are fighting and hurting ourselves over it. Our resource [Limestone at Odugblase] is being taken away and we are not benefitting from it.

I am determined as the Regional Minister to get Kroboland to access that fund. I’m serious about it and I will do it. The water system that we are waiting for the government to come and fix, we will use that money to develop it and take the revenue and use that revenue generated for other purposes.”

His suggestion did not sit well with some Krobo indigenes who argued that the amount cannot be used for purposes such as the provision of water which is a basic responsibility of the government.

The Konor who agreed that water challenges in the two areas must be addressed since the problem has persisted over the years disagreed with the plans of the minister towards the money, arguing that the government has already accessed what is due them from the proceeds of the mining activities and the rest should serve as compensation for the destruction caused during the activities.

“If the honourable minister says the money must be given to him, the money is a proceed from mining activities in the two districts and government gave the concession to GHACEM. After the government took its proceeds and caused destruction to our lands, what is left is the royalties for the chiefs and people of Krobo. So this is not money the government can take to execute its mandate to the Krobo people,” said the chief.

Nene Oklepeme emphasized that the chiefs don't find it right with the government to take the little that must be given to them to develop the communities.

“Among the chiefs, we don't find it right with the government to take the little that must be given to the chiefs to develop the communities...we disagree with this suggestion,” he stated.

He questioned the fulfillment of the Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) of the companies involved in the mining activities and wondered what informed the basis of the minister’s comments.

He quizzed: “What are the corporate social responsibilities of the mining companies for the chiefs and people of Yilo and Manya Krobo?"

According to him, the least government could do is to ensure that the mining companies honour these responsibilities to the people such as the provision of basic amenities.

“Your vehicles are destroying our roads and government is supposed to ensure that these things are done but they have mined their limestone and the government still has its eyes on the little that must be given to the chiefs to develop their communities,” he asserted.

The Paramount Chief said contrary to popular perceptions, no royalties from the mining activities are paid to the Yilo Krobo traditional council.

“Since I assumed this throne, no royalties have been paid to the Yilo Krobo Traditional Council or any chief; they must pay [royalties] because when you go to other parts of the country where gold is mined, royalties are paid to the traditional councils which are used for developmental purposes. So if they are mining limestone over here, it is important that something is paid to us,” he stressed.

In 2004, a concession was granted to Ghana Cement Limited (GHACEM) to mine limestone at Odugblase for the production of Portland cement.

Commencement of mining operations of the 2 million dollar investment was inaugurated by the then President, John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday, November 17, 2004, and will be in operation till 2024.

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