Business News of 2014-05-29

Sand winning degrading tourist sites

The Central Region is arguably the region with the highest number of tourist sites in the country. The tourist facilities that continue to attract visitors include the castles and forts, leisure parks, beaches, lagoons, the international stingless bees sites and the Kromantse deep pit.

Others are the forgotten historical stone of Asebu, the Essiam earthenware bowl site, the Otaakra sacred tree between Ekumfi Ekotsi and Ekumfi Akwansa Kokodo.

It is regrettable to note, however, that some unscrupulous people are engaged in activities that are damaging the environment and do not promote patronage of the beautiful natural heritage sites.

One of such sites that has suffered from the activities of deviants is the beautiful coast line from Cape Coast to Elmina. This site, which is the preferred destination of tourists, is being degraded and destroyed by sand winners and others who openly defecate along the shores.

These prohibitive activities have been going on unchecked for the past five years. Sand winning, especially, is a great threat to the multi-million Ghana cedis sea defence project initiated by government to protect the coast line and the main Accra-Takoradi Highway.

The negative effect of the sand winning is evident on the pillars supporting the Etrue bridge, near Abakem on the main Cape Coast-Takoradi road. The supporting pillars of the bridge have been exposed and the iron rods in the concrete moulding are being corroded.

The sand winners, who obviously are aware that their actions are illegal, operate in the night under the cover of darkness. They use unapproved routes through coconut trees at the beaches and load their tipper trucks with sand from night till the wee hours of the morning. This sand they collect in the night are then tipped in a community nearby and later transported to various destinations. A truckload of beach sand costs GH¢220.

In spite of several concerns raised by the chiefs and community leaders in Abakem-Ahenborboi Electoral Area, the practice still persists. A complaint was even made by the assembly member for Abakem-Ahenborboi Electoral Area on the floor of the assembly but it did not yield any positive results.

The practice has had a negative impact on the people of the area who are predominately fishermen. The sand winning has also exposed the coastal reef and destroyed several nets of the fishermen. The situation is so grave that last year fishermen in the Abakem area could not fish during the fishing season when a bumper catch was expected.

A crusade began by the chief of the area, Togbe Ayivi I, to stop the unhealthy practice has been unsuccessful because residents believe certain influential people have been supporting the practice.

“We know people who are engaged in the practice but whatever we do, the sand winning continues” said the chief.

The assembly member for the area, Mr Francis Apedo, said the sand winning was affecting fishing and the environment and also denying the people of their livelihood.

He said the beaches were one of the most important attractions for tourism in the region so any action that destroyed the natural beauty of the environment would be disastrous for tourism in particular and the Central Region in general.

He was worried that at high tide, the sea came as far as to the main road which was only a few metres away from dwelling houses.

The assembly member has, therefore, called for concerted efforts to stop sand winning, or else the “sea will eat up the whole community’ and its tourist attraction.”