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Opinions of Monday, 15 March 2021

Columnist: Chief Bukari Kuoru

The new Gold Coast in The Sissala East Municipalilty: A warning for the future

File photo: The Sissala East map File photo: The Sissala East map

The Sissala-Land, which boast of the first president of the third Republic, Dr. Hilla Liman is blessed, with varying natural and human resources. Its contributions to the national development is inalienable and occupies a pivotal role in the sustenance of the nation but has since not seen any serious, major and tangible developments from any of the governments, especially the New Patriotic Party, that has ruled this country since Independence in 1957.

The Sissala-Land, which constitutes 2/3rds of the land mass of the Upper West Region and also contributes major cereal such as maize etc to feed the country is also blessed with Rose-wood and recently gold. The former has seen revenue outflow from illegal harvest of over $300 million with nothing to show for partly because of governments lackadaisical attitude or complicity in aiding in the practice and failure to promulgate effective laws, systems to check the menace.

A JoyNews documentary on the Rosewood saga highlighted the impunity with which the Chinese through their Ghanaian surrogates raped the forest of its virginity and caused a devastating effect on flora and fauna especially causing a serious change in the ecological and weather conditions that drastically affected the yields of farmers in the 2020 farming season. Records show the abysmal performance of farmers, the like never experienced before as a results of this crime committed against the forest in the Sissala land. The destruction caused is immeasurable and irreparable.

It seems the Sissalaland has been blessed again with the recent discovery of gold in the Sissala East Municipalilty in the areas of Pido & Wuru, two communities where the mining is currently taking place. Yet another test of our resolve.

The Sissala East has since the last rainy season & the beginning of this new year, 2021 become the new hot spot for gold mining and It is my understanding that so far the activities have not brought any form of destruction to land or any water body as there is no water body in the area. This is a great opportunity to help shape the local economy of the area if backed by proper legislation. As we speak there's only a rush to exploit the area by every and anybody and no effort to properly regulated the practice. Everyone seems to be rushing to get a piece of the booty including political actors and private business people in the Municipality and outside the Municipality.

I was greeted with smiles when I heard the news but then I thought of Obuasi, Prestea, Konongo and the other gold producing centers in Ghana and how dissolute the people there still are even after years of mining with little to no development at all. They look very unlike gold producing centers. One thing keeps ringing in my head, is the Sissala land going to be another Obuasi? Has there been sensitisation programme geared towards controlled and safe activity?

Of course, the benefits can far outweigh the negatives if properly regulated. The question is how about if its not regulated like the rosewood. The aftermath maybe destructive to the flora and fauna as I understand there's a forest reserve close by.

Why do I write this then? I am scared of the future prospects of blessing. Not too long ago, we had issues with Rosewood. Plus, the stories of Obuasi and the rest are not too encouraging. The question is has any thought been given to the future dangers this blessing may cause in the future? Let me highlight a few;

1. Increased standard of living causing hardship.
2. Increased school drop out as a result of youth preferring to make money than to stay in school.
3. Increased crime.
4. Reduced farm produce because the labour meant for farming will be substituted for mining. Etc
5. Child labour & abuse of human rights.

The first point of call to address the issues raised and properly regulate this new found "Solomon's mines" is our traditional authorities. They are the first point of contact and custodians of the land and must not allow small enticements to allow for the the future untold effects it will have on the people.

There must also be a stakeholder consultantative meeting to create a roadmap and possibly sign an MOU to regulate, and streamline the mining activities. There can also be an operational description of how things should or should not be done since this is the first time an activity of this sort is taking place in the Sissala land to curb future conflicts that can be detrimental if not fatal.

The Municipal assembly must not play the ostrich in this matter as it could be one great way of getting revenue to help fund some of its developmental projects and also create direct and indirect employment for the good folks of the Sissala East in this era that employment itself is as rare as the gold they seek.

We must do all this without losing sight of the security implications. Proper light should be shone to reap the benefits for the good people of the Sissala East Municipality.

Is the new found "Gold Coast" a curse or a blessing? I hope the right things are done this time around unlike in the case of the rosewood.

Sissala Heritage Foundation Sissala East Municipal Assembly Amidu Chinnia Mohammed Sukparu Lachodongo

For God and Country.

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