The chiefs and people of the Gwira Traditional Area in the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region have petitioned the Minerals Commission to withdraw any licence(s) granted to the Okobeng Mining Company Ltd with immediate effect.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ghana Police Service among other regulatory bodies have also been petitioned.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Accra on Thursday, Awulae Agama Tuagyan II, the Omanhene of the Gwira Traditional Area, alleged that the company, over the past six years, had engaged in illegal small-scale mining, otherwise known as galamsey, in the area.
That had destroyed cocoa farms and polluted the Ankobra River, the main source of drinking water for the people, he said.
In addition, the people suffer skin diseases and irreparable skin damage due to the poisonous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide used to extract gold.
The company, Awulae Tuagyan said, had also refused to pay any compensation to farmers whose cocoa farms were destroyed.
“The company has failed to reclaim the degraded lands, thereby, depriving the residents of their source of livelihoods and worsening their economic conditions,” he said.
“When Nananom and the people started complaining, the company’s Managing Director, Mr Amponsah, is using some methods to intimidate us with armed landguards and other offensive weapons.”
“The company has never provided a single corporate social amenity to any community since it started operations in the traditional area about six years ago.”
“We once visited Okusuro, one of the villages, which had suffered massive degradation due to the company’s illegal mining activities. The armed land guards employed by Okobeng Mining Company chased us with cutlasses and guns…They destroyed our vehicles and useful items…In fact, we’ve become slaves on our own lands,” the Omanhene said.
The Traditional Council had petitioned the Minerals Commission, the Municipal Security Council, the Sector Ministry, the National Security, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Office of the President but nothing has been done about the matter.
He warned that if nothing was done there was the likelihood that the youth might clash with the company’s armed land guards, which could be dangerous.
He called on the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and Ghana Police Service to, within 14 days, withdraw any licence (s) granted to the company to avoid any mayhem.