HOUSES and other structures on the lands at the buffer zones of the Atiwaa Quarries Limited, a stone mining quarry company at Kasoa-Opeikuman in the Awutu-Senya Municipality of the Central Region, will soon be demolished through legal means to save the buffer zones and the environment from further degradation and encroachment.
Besides, the inhabitants mostly private land developers, fetish priests and churches are illegal occupants and encroachers, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Atiwa Quarries Limited, Mr Anthony Kwame Djan, told Weekend Today yesterday when the paper visited the site to ascertain the level of encroachment on the lands at buffer zones of the quarry company.
He revealed that their checks have showed that a total of about three hundred (300) Illegal houses and other makeshift structures including the Great Commission Church International have been built on the land at the buffer zones of the company.
A development, he stressed, was posing danger to the commercial operations of the company.
According to Mr Djan, those on the lands are without permits and title deeds because the company legally bought a 75-acre of the said lands from the chiefs and elders of Boduase community, the allodia title owners of the Kasoa-Opeikuman lands in 2019 to mine stone.
The legal luminary expressed surprise at moves by some elders of Opeikuma to resell the said lands belonging to the company to innocent and unsuspecting Ghanaians and organisations, although his company legally bought the land from them and dully registered it at the Lands Commission of Ghana to mine stone for 92 years.
He stated that the quarry company at present was unsafe due to the massive resell of its lands by elders in the area.
He, therefore, called on the Chief of Opeikuman, Nana Opei, to caution his people to desist from of their constant habit of reselling his lands to innocent land developers.
He lamented that the resale of the land was costing the Atiwaa Quarries Limited because “we have bought boulders (big rocks) from Winneba to mount the boundaries of the land to protect the buffer zones of the company.
Consequently Lawyer Djan warned private land developers and individuals to move away from the acquisition areas and desist from buying their land, warning that “anyone caught within the boundaries would be prosecuted and if possible jailed.”
He said they have realised that parts of the lands in the buffer zones of the company have been resold to private developers and organisations by some elders of Kasoa-Opeikuman, though they claim that they did not know any of the indiscriminate sale of the land belonging to the company.
“I want to emphasise that those who have not developed their lands at the buffer zones of my quarry company should immediately go and see those who sold the lands to them to collect their monies…and also those who developed their lands should do same because they would soon be losing their properties on the land of the company,” he stressed.
Mr Djan issued this warning to rubbish recent allegations by some residents led by the Youth Chief (Mbratsehene) of Kasoa-Opeikiman, Nana Mensah, and a Fetish Priest, Mr Anthony Tetevi, that the company’s activities, especially its current constant dynamite explosion, had been causing damages to lives and properties, resulting in the destruction of building structures in the area.
The residents stated that the quarry was not far from the community which was exposing the residents to flying stones, loud noise of the crushers, dust and stones being thrown on the roofing of their buildings.
However, in a sharp response the seasoned lawyer denied that allegation, saying the company was operating within the directive of what is enshrined in both environmental mining permit and mining licence acquired from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission and Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
According to Mr Djan, anytime the company wants to blast rocks, prior notices were given to the chiefs and residents through the use of public information address system.
He added that in order to guarantee or ensure the safety of some residents who were illegally staying within the buffer zones of the company, any time the company wanted to blast, “we provide a vehicle to move them out of the buffer zones before the blasts which even last for ten seconds.
He explained that staff of the company go thorough checks through the community after every blast to ascertain if there was any damage caused to the people and properties.
“We have good relationship with the chiefs and people at Kasoa Opeikuma and we are surprised to hear in the publications that our activities have been destroying health and livelihoods in the community. We cannot bully them and we will not do so because we are one family,” Mr Djan assured.
Mr Djan stated that having been a Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on the lands related issues in Ghana, he would be the last person to do anything unlawful and illegal that would cause environmental hazards to the people as well as pose some disaffection and inconveniences to people around.
According to him, a series of meetings between the company and the communities had been held to ensure that both parties worked for mutual understanding and prosperity.
The legal luminary re-affirmed that the residents including the Fetish Priest—Mr Anthony Tetevi—who made those unsubstantiated allegations against the company were encroachers.
“They (referring to the residents) are encroachers on my company buffer zones. I paid and bought that place legally from the chiefs and elders of Boduase and the Chief of Opeikiman, Nana Opei, witnessed and supervised the land lease transaction between him and the people of Boduase. They leased this land to me to mine stone for 92 years and the lease transaction is renewable.
“I put US$7 million investment in this quarry business but these residents came to build structures on my company buffer zones which value are below the GH¢3,0000 of each house unit,” So do these encroachers want my US$ 7 million investment to go waste,” Mr Djan asked.
He noted that the company has also not reneged on its corporate social responsibility to the people in the community as it has on several occasions rendered support to the people in the form of road construction, bore-hole provision, provided educational materials, KVIP and roofing of school buildings among others.
He indicated that the company has also been supporting the schools in the community at their speech and prize giving days, and called on the residents to bury their differences.
To this end, Mr Djan warned the residents who had encroached on the lands within his company’s buffer zones to leave immediately or else they will incur his wrath.
The Atiwa Quarries Company which started its commercial operations in the year 2012 produces granite chippings and runs between eight and ten hours a day. Its total workforce stands at 78.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU, BACK FROM OPEIKUMA, CENTRAL REGION
Writer’s email: email@example.com
Pix: Mr Kwame Djan, CEO of Atiwa Quarries Limited, demonstrating to journalists how some residents have encroached on lands within the buffer zones of his