The chiefs and elders within the Atewa enclave have distant themselves from a demonstration organised by members of the concerned citizens of the Atewa landscape to protest the government’s plans of mining bauxite in the Atewa forest reserve.
The angry youth on Tuesday, 21 January 2020 embarked on the march from Sagyimase to Kyebi to say no to the mining of bauxite.
The youth believe the forest which provides drinking water to five million people and harbours over 100 wildlife species will be destroyed if the government goes on with its plans to mine its bauxite.
But, the chiefs and elders, on the other hand, have given their blessing to the government to mine the mineral.
Contrary to fears that the forest will be destroyed, the chiefs expressed confidence that with the birth of the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC), the government will come up with environmentally friendly and sustainable ways in developing the bauxite reserve.
“We must emphasise that we are not aware of any chief, or community that is against the bauxite mining but rather, the consensus is for us to continue engaging the government to ensure the project is implemented in a responsible and sustainable manner,” the chiefs said in a statement.
Read full statement below:
THE CHIEFS AND ELDERS WITHIN THE ATEWA ENCLAVE RESPONSES ON THE MISREPRESENTATION BY CONCERNED CITIZENS OF ATEWA LANDSCAPE DEMONSTRATION AGAINST BAUXITE MINING
We the chiefs and community members living in the fringes of the Atewa Forest Reserve do not appreciate the efforts by the above-mentioned group in publicizing their beliefs and fears concerning the proposed bauxite mining within the Atewa Forest Reserve as representative of the people of Atewa.
More so, we are surprised the organizers did not involve the main communities that will be impacted directly by the bauxite mining activities as stated in their press release and neither did they consult with Nananom, yet they are claiming all the people within the fringes of the Atewa Forest Reserve are in support of the demonstration.
We want to make it clear to the organizers, and their supporters that they cannot force their wishes on the people of Atewa, and that we have had consultations with GIADEC and are optimistic the bauxite mining within the Atewa range will not be as reckless as being portrayed by them, on the contrary, we are willing to work with Government to achieve his vision of developing an Integrated Aluminum Industry in Ghana.
It must be noted, the demonstration was staged on our blind side, and we are aware the demonstrators are not indigenes, rather they were transported from West Akyem and Kwaebibirem Districts, which do not make up the entire communities surrounding the reserve.
Again, the organizers are saying that they want the place to be earmarked for a national park, a view which is contrary to that of the people of Atewa.
We must emphasize that we are not aware of any chief, or community that is against the bauxite mining but rather, the consensus is for us to continue engaging the government to ensure the project is implemented in a responsible and sustainable manner.
GIADEC, an entity established by the government to develop bauxite deposits in the country is currently engaging with us and has explained that they would ensure that our major river sources will not be affected.
For over a hundred years, the Atewa Forest has remained a reserve but lately, the forest is fast losing its biodiversity potential due to illegal logging, indiscriminate tree felling and lack of effective management plans for the reserve.
It is our belief that when GIADEC and its partners commence operations within the reserve; it would be effectively managed and protected.
We will like to advise the organizers of the demonstration to desist from using the community name without consulting nananom and the good people of Atewa.
Yes, as citizens we are not spectators, and with the establishment of GIADEC by an act of Parliament, let us all help the government in coming up with environmentally friendly and sustainable ways in developing our bauxite reserve.
Again, we have seen the influx of numerous civil-society organizations whose annual budgets through donor funding is much bigger than the Minerals Commission but do nothing in ensuring the protection of the reserve.
We have witnessed unsustainable alternative livelihood projects being implemented by some civil-society organizations that do not benefit the people nor stop people from illegally entering the forest.
Currently, the forest is under threat from illegal logging, indiscriminate hunting, and mining. We are of the opinion that since the total area, GIADEC, and their partners would be mining is less than twelve per cent of the reserve, we are hopeful with their presence the rest of the reserve would be better protected.
The concerned citizens of Atewa should not put all the blame on the doorstep of the Forestry Commission even though we are aware that the commission is not doing enough.
We drive by Anyinam and see all manners of fauna species being sold on the street in gross disregard to hunting laws, and we do nothing about that and still believe that we have enough species within the reserve to be as a national park, or we intend to import animals into the reserve.
We the indigenes living in the fringes of the reserve believe that the Government of President Nana Akufo Addo will never supervise a reckless bauxite mining operation.
We also believe; for over hundred years, the forest has remained a reserve awaiting a President like His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, who has proven to Ghanaians, he is a President of possibilities and will ensure value is added to our resources to achieve his vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
We believe that GIADEC was not established to destroy resources but to develop them for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
Finally, we will like to state that, we the undersigned and Nananom living on the fringes of the reserve disassociate ourselves from the demonstration organized by the concerned citizens of the Atewa landscape.
We call on Ghanaians living home and abroad to remember that Ghana beyond aid can only be achieved if we allow the Government through our supervision as citizens to develop our resources competitively and sustainably through innovative ways.
We the under listed chiefs hereby signed this statement on behalf of the other chiefs and community elders of; Appam, Afisa, Ahwenease, Adadientem, Pano, Adukrom, Sagyimase, Bunso, Nsutem, Mampong, and Osino.
Osabarima Marfo Kwabrane - Kyebihene/Abontendomhene
Nana Oye Gyau - Asiakwa Amankrado ?
Baffour Kyere Koranteng - Asikam - Amankrado
Osabarima Okogyeaman - Kyebi – Apapamhene