Some residents of Apegusu and Mpakadan in the Asuogyaman Constituency have raised serious concerns over the neglect of affected residents in the ongoing railway construction project in the area.
They said non payment of compensation coupled with the poor management of natural resources in the areas is a cause to worry.
According to a team of like minded indeginges of the area, they are unhappy at the rate at which the locals are being taken advantage of by contractors constructing the Tema Mpakadan railway project.
The 97.6 kilometer Tema Mpakadan railway project was started in 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by November 2021 but little is seen to be done to address compensation of affected residents.
Some affected residents say, they are being shortchanged by contractors working on the project and are thus calling for urgent steps to be taken by government to call all contractors working around the Apegusu and Mpakadan stretch to order as serious measures will be taken to stop the project if their concerns are not addressed.
A media tour of the area revealed several buildings within Mpakadan and Apegusu have suffered serious structural defects which is a course for worry to the affected persons who claim not a dime has been paid for the damages caused them.
A native of Mpakadan, Kwakye Ofosu mentioned that “ My house was affected together with my home appliances and yet nothing has been said to me ever since although I continue to forward my concerns to the authorities for redress”.
Assembly Member for Mpakadan, Lewu Oscar noted that so far he has collated a total of about 98 names of people affected by the blast whose home appliances have been affected and have not been given any form of compensation.
“ The company undertaking the project at this part of town, ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited have failed to work according to the laid down guidelines as required by law and as such have caused us a lot of problems. In as much as we are for the project, we believe they must do the right thing.
Several people’s home appliances have been destroyed and several homes have been damaged as a result of the consistent blast from the site and we are living in fear because they are not working using best standards.” He lamented
Leader of the affected Twin towns, Mpakadan and Apegusu, who organized a joint press conference at Mpakadan, Kingsley Darko at a press conference noted that, although they are all happy for the project, they believe the contractors working on the project must work under the right standards to safeguard lives and properties.
“ The construction of the railway has made it virtually impossible to access the community clinic in Apegusu as access have been cut to the place by the project. All pleas to AFCON to construct access road to the clinic has been treated with contempt.
The project has also made it impossible for people to access their farms due to the elevation of the railway line. So we need the contractors to rethink through their actions and do the needful for the people.” He said
Mr Darko said, they have thus resolved that all affected persons must be appropriately compensated as well as al safety and security measures in accordance with the mining regulations must be observed in any blast that may occur within the catchment area.
He further mentioned that “due to the massive trauma indeginges have suffered as a result of the fear caused by the unannounced blasting of rocks in the area, there should be a post trauma counseling for affected persons and the community at large.
He urged that the companies constructing the project have also neglected their corporate social responsibilities and must be called to order to with immediate effect get them done to forestall any future disturbances from the affected communities.”
A number of community members present at the press conference expressed their anger over the failure of AFCON and its sub contractors to do the needful by adequately compensating them for their loses.
Some persons complained of several acres of their farm lands being destroyed as other say their lands have been taken over to win raw materials and yet, they have not been compensated; a situation they bemoaned.
“Several farm lands and resources have been destroyed in our town here and no form of compensation is being paid to the affected persons. Several letters in the form of appeals have also fell on deaf ears and we think it’s high time the attention of the President is drawn to this”.
The angry indegenes also mentioned that, a class three pupil died in one of the pits as contractors failed to cover it after using the site. They fear from the way things are going the railway project will be a curse instead of a blessing if nothing is done to correct the wrong.
“Several pits have been left uncovered and we even lost a 12 year old boy in one of the pits. We fear this project instead of a blessing will be a curse to us. A resident said
The assistant headmaster of Apegusu Senior High School, Raphael Kalco, on his part also said “ the contractors failed to notify us during the blasting of the rocks so we could safeguard our students so we are always taken by surprise anytime there is a blast. The consistent blast has caused serious fear and panic among our students and as such has destroyed several properties in the school. Most of our structures now have defects as a result of the situation. Already this school has a lot of needs which infrastructure is inclusive and here we are now having to have most of our school buildings suffer defects as a result of the railway project.
Meanwhile, after several months of blatantly disregarding the protocols to be undertaken ahead of the blasting, a letter written by one of the sub contractors undertaking the railway project, ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited and addressed to the community of Mpakadan and dated August 20, 2021 seek to notify the community of their intended blasting activities effective February to October 2021.