General News of Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Source: GNA

Bui Dam in danger

Activities of illegal miners around the Bui Hydroelectric Power Generation facility at Bui in the Banda District of Brong-Ahafo, are posing serious threats to the 400-megawatt dam.

Local and foreign nationals from countries such as Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and China, have invaded the dam’s catchment area where they are undertaking illegal mining activities.

The Brong-Ahafo Regional Security Council (REGSEC) has, however, issued a two-week ultimatum to all residents around the 622-million-dollar project to relocate or risk forceful eviction.

REGSEC deems it imperative to use the necessary force at its disposal to ensure that the dam and the generation station are preserved in the supreme interest of the nation, the Council emphasized.

Inhabitants of six villages in the catchment area of the dam were relocated by the Bui Power Authority in 2011 to pave way for the construction of the dam, but six households at Dokokyina failed to relocate.

Currently, the population of Dokokyina has increased from 15 occupants of the six households to an estimated population of more than 5,000 people, including women and children.

Announcing the two-week ultimatum at a news conference in Sunyani on Monday, Mr Paul Evans Aidoo, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister and Chairman of REGSEC, observed that the intransigence of the six households to relocate led to the invasion by other people, including the foreign nationals.

He explained that illegal mining activities had taken center stage in some areas of the Bui National Park, including the fringes of the dam, which is believed to contain deposits of gold-bearing rocks.

Mr Aidoo observed that the dam faced a great danger of being polluted and silted, which could lead to its destruction, because the illegal miners are using heavy duty and earth-moving machines in their operations.

He noted with regret that the inhabitants and settlers at Dokokyina who are armed with sophisticated firearms use crude and unorthodox methods, as well as poisonous chemicals to fish in the Bui Power Authority prohibited areas.

According to the Regional Minister, reports showed brisk trading activities such as the sale of all kinds of alcoholic beverages, Indian hemp and other narcotic drugs; prostitution, currency black-marketing, as well as armed robbery in the area. . According to the Bui Power Authority, the dam had increased the country’s generation capacity by about 20 per cent, thus enhancing power supply in general and in particular, the reliability and security of power supply to the Northern sector of the country.

The Bui hydro electric project was designed primarily for hydro-power generation.

It, however, includes the development of an irrigation scheme for agriculture development, and presents an opportunity for enhanced eco-system and fisheries.