DIRECTOR in-charge of Inter-Sectoral Network at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Ransford Sakyi, has stated categorically that the bauxite in Atewa Forest Range Reserve in the Eastern Region can be mined without destroying the forest reserve.
According to Mr Sakyi, there is the way to mine bauxite in the forest reserve to preserve the ecosystem of the forest and also protect the bodies of the three key rivers in the Atewa forest such as the Densu, Ayensu and Birim.
He stressed that the numerous calls by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) to the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to reconsider its decision to give out the Atewa forest range for bauxite mining were completely out of place.
Mr Sakyi thought that the protesting NGOs and CSOs do not really understand the position of government intended plans, saying he believes that the CSOs and NGOs have been influenced to protest government’s intended plans.
He explained that mining bauxite in the forest reserve will not pose an environmental threat, but rather would enhance water quality or even drainage system of the forest. Mr Sakyi said this when he was speaking at a two-day in-house training programme for journalists on the topic “Environmental and Persuasive Reporting and Related Activities,” in Accra recently.
The two-day event—which was solely organised by the EPA—was attended by journalists from print, online portals, radio and television media houses in Ghana.
Parliament has already passed into law the Ghana Bauxite Integrated Aluminum Industry Act which would provide a legal framework to take off the vast bauxite resource available to help in economic development of the country.
During the mid-year budget review, the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, stated that the infrastructure deficit, which was in the region of US$30 billion, should be adequately tackled with the agreement that will see government leverage the country’s bauxite deposits.
One of such actions to close the infrastructure deficit is the Sinohydro bauxite – infrastructure barter between Ghana and China worth US$ 2 billion to mine bauxite at Nyinahin.
This is part of an earlier memorandum between Ghana and China where Ghana is only going to leverage 5% of its bauxite resources to the Chinese who are giving us $15 billion over a period.
The Vice-President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the he signed the memorandum of agreement of which China will provide funding to the infrastructure project to exploit our bauxite reserve, stated the total bauxite they want to leverage is the 960 million metric tonnes. But scores of civil society and environmental protection groups believe that it is still not late for the government to change its mind.
The groups which was led by Rocha Ghana, a faith-based environmental NGO that provides conservation interventions aimed at contributing to the sustainable management of important ecological habitats stressed that government can redirect its focus to other areas that were not currently under protection or alternatively use green pathways that will still give jobs and secure the water bodies and livelihoods of the people.
They said at a time when Ghana was working hard to meet its obligations under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, it was crucial for government and other stakeholders to assess the Atewa situation critically bearing in mind the immediate impact its decision will have on the environment and the people before taking any steps.
The groups argued that although Ghana may benefit financially in the short-term with mining, the evidence of a better option lied in sustainably harnessing the ecological benefits of the forest which include agricultural production.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU
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