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Opinions Fri, 19 Feb 2016

To Ghana's national security coordinator

By Kofi Thompson

Dear Mr. Donkor,

We all know how difficult your job is - and appreciate the incredibly

hard work that you and those who work with you in the security

agencies, do, daily, to keep our homeland Ghana and its citizens safe,

at all material times.

With the funding constraints you and your colleagues in Ghana's

security agencies face, keeping our nation and its people safe, is a

herculean task. You have your work cut out indeed.

An egregious infraction of the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Law,

2014, which amends the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), has

just been reported to the Anyinam District Police Command, by the

Assemblyman of Akyem Saamang, the Honourable Gyeatuo.

The Hon. Gyeatuo deserves to be commended for his patriotism and his

determined fight against those behind the illegal gold mining and

illegal logging in the area - at some considerable risk to his

person.

Incidentally, the brave and honest Hon. Gyeatuo, is an activist of the

Wassa Association of Communities Against Mining (Wacam) - in addition

to being the assistant headmaster of the local Methodist school. He

has been in the trenches with us for some twenty odd years now. Good

man. A true patriot and nationalist.

Commander Baba will appraise you of the full facts of the case when

you contact him.

Do ensure that the excavator, all the equipment, and sundry products

used in that particular infraction of the Minerals and Mining

(Amendment) Law, of 2014, are confiscated to the state.

Please take an active interest in this case - as it will give the

entities under your leadership an insight into the fraudulent use of

bogus documentation by the wealthy criminal syndicates operating in

the area that are behind the illegal gold mining and illegal logging

in the areas known locally as "Thompson" and "Francois".

That is how those wealthy and powerful crooks get away with their

crimes against the good people of Ghana. The irony of it all, is that

if the area is preserved, the fringe-forest communities of Akyem

Juaso, Saamang and Osino, could receive regular payments in European

Union (EU) community carbon sequestration initiatives.

The bogus documentation used by the wealthy criminal syndicates, whose

unparalleled greed is destroying our section of the Atewa Range upland

evergreen rainforest, make it possible for bush-cut chainsaw lumber

from illegally felled trees in the said area to be transported from

Akyem Juaso to timber outlets at Muus, near Taifa junction - with

'conveyance documents' unlawfully issued by rogue elements in the

Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission paving the way for the

wealthy crooks.

Mr. Donkor, at a time when global warming is impacting Ghana so

negatively, it is vital that a complete halt is brought to the illegal

gold mining and illegal logging in the areas surrounding the Atewa

Forest Reserve, and inside the reserve itself.

The area in question, where the reported infraction of Act 703 took

place, borders Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission (FSFC)

boundary pillars: 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97 and 98.

Sir, if the area is allowed to be degraded any further, by the

activities of illegal gold miners and illegal loggers, it will

eventually affect the quality of life of millions of Ghanaians in

southern urban Ghana, whose treated drinking water supply from the

Ghana Water Company Limited's (GWCL) treatment plants, depend on the

three river systems - the Birim, Ayensu and Densu - which take their

headwaters from the Atewa Forest Reserve.

You are no doubt aware of the catastrophe that has recently befallen

the people of Nsawam - who despite having a new and modern water

treatment plant, are now desperate for treated water, as we speak.

Imagine the security implications of a major city like Accra suffering

a similar fate. It just does not bear thinking - but it could happen

if the activities of the callous and selfish individuals mining gold

and felling trees illegally in the Atewa upland evergreen rainforest

is not halted.

If there is no substitute for water, should we permit negligent

officialdom, to allow that to happen, when water is said to be life

itself?

Think of the public health implications of Accra being without water,

Mr Yaw Donkor. And think of the many large manufacturing companies,

such as the breweries and pharmaceutical manufacturers, which will

have to be shut down - and what that will do to Ghana's GDP.

And we haven't even touched on the social explosion that could occur,

as a result of the uncontainable anger of long-suffering

parched-masses, finally boiling over - as their misery is compounded

by the persistent lack of a basic necessity of life.

And all because when they could, the appropriate authorities refused

to end the impunity of a few greedy, selfish and powerful people - who

in reality were nothing but ruthless criminals who profited from

gang-raping Mother Nature.

Do not let that happen under your watch - as history would judge your

stewardship harshly, were that to happen. You certainly don't deserve

that fate.

Sir, years ago, the then head of the Minerals Commission, Mr. Aryee,

was so alarmed, when informed by us, of the prospect of gold mining

and illegal logging affecting the headwaters of the Birim, Ayensu and

Densu rivers, that he personally came down from Accra, to visit the

14-square mile freehold upland evergreen rainforest land owned by the

P. E. Thompson Estate, which adjoins the Atewa Forest Reserve and

borders the Kibi Goldfields concession.

The top management of Kibi Goldfields' so-called "co-operators", Solar

Mining Limited, who joined Mr. Ayee to inspect the area in question,

gave an undertaking that it was an area they would not ever venture

into - because they recognised its ecological sensitivity and

importance as a biodiversity hotspot.

The upshot of Mr. Aryee's visit was that both the Minerals Commission

and the head of the mining department of the Environmental Protection

Agency (EPA) Mr. Sakyi, agreed with me, that they had to create a

buffer zone in that area, to protect the Atewa Forest Reserve and the

heavily forested slopes bordering it - designated a Globally

Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA) by Conservation International.

Please join Commander Baba of the Anyinam District Police Command and

the Assemblymen of Akyem Saamang and Akyem Juaso, and other

stakeholders, to visit the area in question tomorrow, if possible - so

that you will be able to gain an insight into the nature of the

problem: and plan an effective strategy to bring the intolerable

impunity, which the rampant illegal gold mining and illegal logging

going on there, with the use of bogus documentation, represents, to a

complete halt.

We salute you - and thank you in advance.

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,

Kofi Thompson.

PS Incidentally, if any members of the late P. E. Thompson's family

are involved in this outrage, in any way, please ensure that they are

also arrested and prosecuted - as none of the beneficiaries have

individual title vested in them: the title to the land still being

that of the estate of the late P. E. Thompson, because a key clause

in the late P. E. Thompson's will, has still not been complied with,

to date.

Ditto the overseers who are supposed to look after the said 14-square

mile upland evergreen rainforest freehold property on a day to day

basis - and must explain how an excavator ended up working on our

private property: and why it was the Hon. Gyeatuo, not them, who had

to alert us about the unlawful damage to our property caused by the

trespassing criminals mining gold illegally on it. Monitor their

leader ''Red" (0209361087) for that purpose.

Our lawyers, who will sue the illegal miners who have damaged our

forestland, on our behalf, will make a certified true copy of the said

will and indentures of the property available to you for inspection

should the need arise.

We will sue those criminals for GHc10 millions for unlawfully

destroying an area of outstanding natural beauty that evolved over

millions of years, where we planned to build 10 eco-lodges, in a

community-based ecotourism venture that includes installing ziplines,

and building what will be the world's longest forest canopy walkway

(it will have 16 bridges and will be 900-1000 metres long), as

centrepiece attractions.

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi