Correspondence from Eastern Region
Companies mining limestone from the Oterkporlu Quarries in the Yilo Krobo Municipality of the Eastern Region would have to brace themselves to cough up levies being demanded by residents of the Oterkporlu community.
The companies including AJ Fanj and Tier Quarry have been undertaking mining activities in the Oterkporlu enclave for years.
The residents led by the Assemblymember for the area say the companies have taken them for granted for far too long by failing to honour their basic Corporate Social Responsibilities to the community.
The only way out, they insist is to levy the companies currently involved in the mining activities to enable them drive the basic developmental needs of the people.
The members have therefore resolved to levy the trucks and trailers conveying the natural resource amounts of GH¢10 and GH¢15 for small and long trailers respectively.
The Assemblymember for Oterkporlu, Ebenezer Teye Narteh says the community arrived at this decision following a long period of fruitless attempts to engage the companies to accord the community its share of the proceeds from the mining of the limestone.
Though the said companies entered memoranda of understanding with the landowners in question before the commencement of the mining activities, he believes that should not end the matter as the community by extension also needs to benefit from the operations.
“We have about three companies here all mining stones within our area. They have only negotiated with the landowners, paid some tokens to the landowners and they thought that is the end. The community have no business, nothing,” said Mr. Teye Narteh.
“We believe this is wrong because this is a natural resource. You are to compensate the landowner only for depriving you of, maybe doing farming on the land but for the mineral there, it is for Ghana and for that matter, the community that you find that mineral on it.”
Mr. Teye Narteh who believes the actions of the community were long overdue observed that despite the gross damage suffered by the residents due to the mining activities of the companies, they have reneged on their basic responsibilities to the community.
“When they do blasting, everybody suffers, even the dust from the work they are doing, everybody gets his share. When they farm vegetables around, you cannot even harvest because, by the time the vegetable is ready, it’s all covered in dust, so everybody is being affected but what are they benefiting, they’re not benefitting anything,” the visibly upset Assembly Man told GhanaWeb.
Though the companies are paying conveyance to the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly, Mr Tetteh insisted that they are also mandated by law to pay a community levy to the community.
“By law, we have community development levy, where these things are ongoing, everywhere they do mining, they pay something to the community, not conveyance but development levy and we’re only asking for a GH¢10 and GH¢15 based on the size of the truck,” he said.
He added: “Those small, small monies will be guarded so that small, small developments, the self-initiative developments that we’re doing like you can see toilet projects, street lights and all that, we can also fall on those monies to be working on it. So we’re starting with what we believe we are entitled to as the community development levy so we’re starting from the 1st of March.”
Asked if the said companies were duly informed and agreed to the levies, the Assembly Man intimated that the community had to write a letter to them notifying them of the decision as they were ‘evading’ a meeting with the community, a letter the companies involved have since refused to respond to."
“It [levy] is non-negotiable, they have not responded to the letter and we’re also not expecting any response from them. All we’re saying is that we’ll go into action to see if anybody will say that they won’t pay,” he warned, adding that checkpoints were already in place for the collection of the levies.
Describing the levy as legitimate, Mr. Narteh was highly optimistic that the levies would be paid without any resistance.
Though he admitted that the community was undertaking the exercise without informing the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly, he, however, insisted that there was already an Assembly by-law backing their actions and hence no need to inform the Assembly again.
He said, “this has nothing to do with the Assembly, it’s not Assembly levy, it’s a community levy.”
Meanwhile, municipal Chief executive for Yilo Krobo, Ebenezer Tetteh Kupualor when contacted by GhanaWeb, denied knowledge of the intentions of the community.
He however said the Assembly would invite the Assemblymember for an amicable resolution of the standoff.