The Somé Traditional Council has served warning that it would not allow any new company engage in salt mining activities in the enclave apart from Seven Seas Company Limited.
Torgbiga Adamah III, said these on the sidelines of a press briefing at Agbozume.
According to the Paramount Chief, the Traditional Council was reliably informed that the Adafienu Concession which legal processes have been completed by Seven Seas, is being reallocated to another company by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for the same purpose, contrary to the agreement the Council reached with Seven Seas Salt Company Ltd.
He said the Council saw this move by the Sector Ministry as a slap in the face and a direct infringement on its rights as the allodial owners of the land who needed to be consulted by the state agencies before taking such a vital decision, adding, “this development if anything to go by is not in the interest of the people of Somé and we will not accept it.”
Torgbiga Adamah said, the reason assigned for the intended reallocation is that two applications submitted by Seven Seas Salt Company Ltd in respect of the Adafienu Concession have been cancelled by the current Sector Minister.
He However said, documentary evidence in the possession of the Council does not support the Minister’s actions.
He indicated that, Seven Seas Salt Company had provided proof of legally acquiring the Adafienu Concession to the Somé Traditional Council which included :
• A letter from the Minerals Commission recommending the company’s application letter to the Minister of Lands & Natural Resources, for approval.
• A letter from the Minister of Lands & Natural Resources approving recommendation of the company’s application.
• A letter dated 11th January, 2021 from the Minerals Commission granting the Concession to the company.
“All these documents indicated to us that the company was rightfully granted the Adafienu Concession hence our acceptance of compensations on behalf of our people and consequently entering into an agreement with the company,” he said.
Torgbiga Adamah said, the Council viewed the Minister’s move as a calculated attempt to deny the area the needed development projects Seven Seas Salt Company intended to initiate for the benefit of the people of Somé.
He indicated that before the coming of Seven Seas Company, the people had two main economic activities undertaken in the lagoon, Fishing and Salt Winning.
“With the presence of the company, it appeared we have to sacrifice the salt winning aspect before we could co-exist with the company so it became necessary to have an agreement to regulate this new relationship with the company. It was therefore agreed that the company re-design its salt ponds to allow two Concessions, Agavedzi- Blekusu and Adafienu to serve as water storage ponds only and nothing else, with Adina Concession as Pre-crystallizers and Salt Crystallizers.
We further agreed with the company to allow the communities to continue fishing in the ponds under the supervision of the community leadership, should the company start pumping sea water into the lagoon.
Everyone can attest to the fact that when the company started testing their pumping machines, the initial sea water that entered the ponds were full of different species of fish, crabs, and shrimps.
If it were not for the 17th September, 2022 drowning incident the economic dynamics of the area would have been completely different by now,” he indicated.
He observed that should a new company come into the picture, it would be carrying out it’s mining activities in the Adafienu Concession which had been reserved by Seven Seas for the purposes stated above.
Torgbiga Adamah added that the fear of the Traditional Council was that, should a new company be allowed to carry out actual mining in the Adafienu Concession, that company would be depriving the people of the community their livelihoods of fishing which Seven Seas ensured was protected.
“Should this new company decide to resort to the pumping of sea water into the Adafienu Concession for its operations, there is no ground space anywhere at Adafienu for pumping the water through to the Concession,” he observed.
“Infact the people of Adafienu have served notice that, they would not allow any such activity in their community,” Torgbiga Adamah stressed.
The Paramount Chief further said, the Somé Traditional Council was solidly behind Seven Seas Salt Company as it was convinced that the company meant well for the residents of the enclave, adding that any attempt to annex the Adafienu Concession from Seven Seas Company will be resisted by the Council and people of Somé.
Torgbiga Adamah further said, in the heat of all the back and forth in relation to the Adafienu Concession and the ensuing matters, the Traditional Council petitioned Dr. Archibald Letsa, the Volta Regional Minister for a reversal of that decision by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister but said, the Council was surprised no action had been taken on their petition till date.
He therefore appealed to government and the Sector Minister to reconsider the decision and to give it’s full support to Seven Seas Salt Company in its quest to embark on developmental projects in the area to augment government’s efforts, including the construction of a jetty (mini harbour) within the Ketu South Municipality to enhance its operations within the ECOWAS sub region, in addition to the salt winning works which he observed had created meaningful employment to many residents of the area.
Meanwhile Mr Adams Mensah, Public Relations Manager of Seven Seas Company Limited, in an interview with News Ghana said, if the claims by the Sector Minister were anything to go by, “then I believe the Minister was not properly briefed on the issues on the ground as pertains to the Adafienu Concession and the general nature of the operations of our company.”
He said the company in 2020, sent an application to the Minerals Commission and a letter granting the Adafienu Concession was given to the company to carry out it’s operations there, after the then Sector Minister approved recommendations and statutory fees were duly paid by the company.
Mr Mensah therefore wondered how an application which had been submitted and approved since 2020 and official documents provided to the company could now be cancelled after the company had duly paid for it’s annual Mineral and Ground Rights to the revelant institutions.
He said Seven Seas was a law abiding company which had since it’s inception adhered to the laid down laws and regulations governing mining activities in the country and would continue to cooperate with government and all relevant institutions in relation to it’s operations.