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Opinions of Friday, 19 February 2016

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

To Ghana's national security coordinator

By Kofi Thompson

Dear Mr. Donkor,

We all know how difficult your job is - and appreciate the incredibly
hard work that you and those who work with you in the security
agencies, do, daily, to keep our homeland Ghana and its citizens safe,
at all material times.

With the funding constraints you and your colleagues in Ghana's
security agencies face, keeping our nation and its people safe, is a
herculean task. You have your work cut out indeed.

An egregious infraction of the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Law,
2014, which amends the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), has
just been reported to the Anyinam District Police Command, by the
Assemblyman of Akyem Saamang, the Honourable Gyeatuo.

The Hon. Gyeatuo deserves to be commended for his patriotism and his
determined fight against those behind the illegal gold mining and
illegal logging in the area - at some considerable risk to his
person.

Incidentally, the brave and honest Hon. Gyeatuo, is an activist of the
Wassa Association of Communities Against Mining (Wacam) - in addition
to being the assistant headmaster of the local Methodist school. He
has been in the trenches with us for some twenty odd years now. Good
man. A true patriot and nationalist.

Commander Baba will appraise you of the full facts of the case when
you contact him.

Do ensure that the excavator, all the equipment, and sundry products
used in that particular infraction of the Minerals and Mining
(Amendment) Law, of 2014, are confiscated to the state.

Please take an active interest in this case - as it will give the
entities under your leadership an insight into the fraudulent use of
bogus documentation by the wealthy criminal syndicates operating in
the area that are behind the illegal gold mining and illegal logging
in the areas known locally as "Thompson" and "Francois".

That is how those wealthy and powerful crooks get away with their
crimes against the good people of Ghana. The irony of it all, is that
if the area is preserved, the fringe-forest communities of Akyem
Juaso, Saamang and Osino, could receive regular payments in European
Union (EU) community carbon sequestration initiatives.

The bogus documentation used by the wealthy criminal syndicates, whose
unparalleled greed is destroying our section of the Atewa Range upland
evergreen rainforest, make it possible for bush-cut chainsaw lumber
from illegally felled trees in the said area to be transported from
Akyem Juaso to timber outlets at Muus, near Taifa junction - with
'conveyance documents' unlawfully issued by rogue elements in the
Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission paving the way for the
wealthy crooks.

Mr. Donkor, at a time when global warming is impacting Ghana so
negatively, it is vital that a complete halt is brought to the illegal
gold mining and illegal logging in the areas surrounding the Atewa
Forest Reserve, and inside the reserve itself.

The area in question, where the reported infraction of Act 703 took
place, borders Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission (FSFC)
boundary pillars: 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97 and 98.

Sir, if the area is allowed to be degraded any further, by the
activities of illegal gold miners and illegal loggers, it will
eventually affect the quality of life of millions of Ghanaians in
southern urban Ghana, whose treated drinking water supply from the
Ghana Water Company Limited's (GWCL) treatment plants, depend on the
three river systems - the Birim, Ayensu and Densu - which take their
headwaters from the Atewa Forest Reserve.

You are no doubt aware of the catastrophe that has recently befallen
the people of Nsawam - who despite having a new and modern water
treatment plant, are now desperate for treated water, as we speak.

Imagine the security implications of a major city like Accra suffering
a similar fate. It just does not bear thinking - but it could happen
if the activities of the callous and selfish individuals mining gold
and felling trees illegally in the Atewa upland evergreen rainforest
is not halted.

If there is no substitute for water, should we permit negligent
officialdom, to allow that to happen, when water is said to be life
itself?

Think of the public health implications of Accra being without water,
Mr Yaw Donkor. And think of the many large manufacturing companies,
such as the breweries and pharmaceutical manufacturers, which will
have to be shut down - and what that will do to Ghana's GDP.

And we haven't even touched on the social explosion that could occur,
as a result of the uncontainable anger of long-suffering
parched-masses, finally boiling over - as their misery is compounded
by the persistent lack of a basic necessity of life.

And all because when they could, the appropriate authorities refused
to end the impunity of a few greedy, selfish and powerful people - who
in reality were nothing but ruthless criminals who profited from
gang-raping Mother Nature.

Do not let that happen under your watch - as history would judge your
stewardship harshly, were that to happen. You certainly don't deserve
that fate.

Sir, years ago, the then head of the Minerals Commission, Mr. Aryee,
was so alarmed, when informed by us, of the prospect of gold mining
and illegal logging affecting the headwaters of the Birim, Ayensu and
Densu rivers, that he personally came down from Accra, to visit the
14-square mile freehold upland evergreen rainforest land owned by the
P. E. Thompson Estate, which adjoins the Atewa Forest Reserve and
borders the Kibi Goldfields concession.

The top management of Kibi Goldfields' so-called "co-operators", Solar
Mining Limited, who joined Mr. Ayee to inspect the area in question,
gave an undertaking that it was an area they would not ever venture
into - because they recognised its ecological sensitivity and
importance as a biodiversity hotspot.

The upshot of Mr. Aryee's visit was that both the Minerals Commission
and the head of the mining department of the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) Mr. Sakyi, agreed with me, that they had to create a
buffer zone in that area, to protect the Atewa Forest Reserve and the
heavily forested slopes bordering it - designated a Globally
Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) by Conservation International.

Please join Commander Baba of the Anyinam District Police Command and
the Assemblymen of Akyem Saamang and Akyem Juaso, and other
stakeholders, to visit the area in question tomorrow, if possible - so
that you will be able to gain an insight into the nature of the
problem: and plan an effective strategy to bring the intolerable
impunity, which the rampant illegal gold mining and illegal logging
going on there, with the use of bogus documentation, represents, to a
complete halt.

We salute you - and thank you in advance.

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,

Kofi Thompson.

PS Incidentally, if any members of the late P. E. Thompson's family
are involved in this outrage, in any way, please ensure that they are
also arrested and prosecuted - as none of the beneficiaries have
individual title vested in them: the title to the land still being
that of the estate of the late P. E. Thompson, because a key clause
in the late P. E. Thompson's will, has still not been complied with,
to date.

Ditto the overseers who are supposed to look after the said 14-square
mile upland evergreen rainforest freehold property on a day to day
basis - and must explain how an excavator ended up working on our
private property: and why it was the Hon. Gyeatuo, not them, who had
to alert us about the unlawful damage to our property caused by the
trespassing criminals mining gold illegally on it. Monitor their
leader ''Red" (0209361087) for that purpose.

Our lawyers, who will sue the illegal miners who have damaged our
forestland, on our behalf, will make a certified true copy of the said
will and indentures of the property available to you for inspection
should the need arise.

We will sue those criminals for GHc10 millions for unlawfully
destroying an area of outstanding natural beauty that evolved over
millions of years, where we planned to build 10 eco-lodges, in a
community-based ecotourism venture that includes installing ziplines,
and building what will be the world's longest forest canopy walkway
(it will have 16 bridges and will be 900-1000 metres long), as
centrepiece attractions.