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Bauxite Mining: Atiwa Residents Walking For Six (6) Days to Flagstaff House - PHOTO
 
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20-Mar-2018  
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Residents of Atiwa at the start of their walk to the Flagstaff House
 
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About 70 concerned residents of Atiwa in the East Akim Municipality in the Eastern Region have begun a 95-km walk from the Atiwa Forest Range to the Flagstaff House to put pressure on the government to rescind its decision to use the country’s largest forest reserve for bauxite mining.

The walk, expected to last six days and being supported by A. Rocha Ghana, a civil society organisation. began last Saturday, March 17, 2018 at Sagyimase, a community located at the foot of the Atiwa Forest Range.

The protestors carried placards, some of which read: ‘When you save water, it saves you’, ‘No Atiwa Forest, no Ayensu’ and ‘EPA, protect our water bodies’.

Protestors will end the walk on March 22, 2018 with a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to coincide with this year’s World Water Day.

Already, they have presented their petition to the East Akim Municipal Assembly and the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin.

Two hundred and sixty square kilometres of the Atiwa Range has been declared a protected area. Yet the forest is not only rich in life but also in minerals.

Rescind decision

According to the Deputy National Director of A. Rocha Ghana, Mr Daryl Bosu, the prime objective of the walk was to mobilise and rally citizens’ action to compel the government to rescind plans to mine bauxite within the Atiwa Forest Reserve because the reserve was vital for the supply of water to more than five million people in Ghana.

“The six-day walk symbolically represents the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which seeks to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” he said.

The Atiwa Forest Reserve is currently being targeted as part of areas where bauxite could be mined.

The government is in the process of striking a deal with Chinese companies to develop a $15-billion integrated aluminium industry in areas, including the Atiwa Forest Reserve.

Mr Bosu, who is leading the walk, stated: “We are not against bauxite mining, but it should not be in the Atiwa Forest. Awaso in the Western Region which has been mining bauxite for over seven decades has nothing to show for it.

“Our forests shall be sold off to mining companies and will then be turned into open pits, without considering the need for the priceless natural resources we depend on.

Forest dwellers rely on them for food, medicine, building materials, tools and clothing. The forests also provide protection against floods and drought.”

According to him, the group was carrying with it water fetched from the three basins in the forest — the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers — and also water fetched from the Birim outside the forest reserve, which had been polluted as a result of illegal mining activities.

Atiwa Forest Reserve

The Atiwa Forest is one of the most extensive intact rainforest areas in West Africa, a source of food and water for five million people and home to a wealth of rare plants and animals.

The forest is considered as one of West Africa’s greatest natural treasures. Its varied ecosystems have given rise to a trove of exceptional biodiversity — lush jungle with eight-metre tall tree ferns, marshes and river landscapes that are a refuge for Africa’s rarest animals and plants.
 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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