INCREASING DEMAND for stone and aggregates has led to extensive uncontrolled stone quarrying operations in some parts of the country causing increased environmental degradation and socio-economic conflicts.
This paper has conducted an inspection/investigation following up on some complaints filed by residents of Ojobi in Gomoa West in the Central Region of the activities of some stone quarries in that area, with quarry operators using dynamite to blast stones affecting their health and habitation.
This paper can confirmed that the residents of Ojobi are facing lots of problems and are unable to leave normal lives because of the illegal and unscientific stone quarrying being conducted in their land.
It has been established that some quarries which are operating in the area are making livelihoods unbearable for residents. This however, gave grave concerns to the people who have risen up against the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for allowing these quarries to continue with their activities even though they are detrimental to their health and social lives.
The villagers are prepared to hold a protest against the stone quarries and State Institutions which according to them are reneging on their responsibilities to ensure the safety of the people.
This paper can say that majority of homes in Ojobi are facing the prospects of total decimation because of illegal quarries, unregulated use of explosives, and transport of stone blocks.
During a tour to the village, it was observed that most houses or buildings have developed cracks as result of the blast from the quarries.
The people claimed that the department concerned, thus the EPA could have leased out land in the village for stone quarrying, and reminded the agency of their constant opposition to stone quarries, crushers, and blasts, and asked the EPA and other agencies involved to put a stop to all the activities forthwith.
They said repeated reports from the village residents to the EPA and Minerals Commission have fallen on deaf ears, and expressed the suspicion that the department is hand in glove with the lessees of the said land, and asked for a thorough inquiry into the various leases.
Speaking to residents they said that earlier protests on the subject had failed to make any impact, and that against norms, blasts are conducted every evening disturbing their peace.
They also expressed disaffection at the way and manner the land is being degraded as result of the quarry activities.
A resident, who also happens to be a leader of a Youth group in the area, said that because of quarrying activities being conducted in the close proximity of houses, road gets blocked and walls of houses have been developing cracks.
He also added that health conditions of the people are deteriorating because of the quarries.
The people of the village have contracted diseases like tuberculosis, asthma, elephantiasis, and stomach upsets because of the dust and dirt, apart from other health hazards, kicked up by the quarries.
Interestingly our visit have also revealed that the migrant labour employed by quarry owners suffer from shortage of drinking water as these labourers defecate by the roadsides, and live in unhygienic conditions, giving rise to further health concerns.
Indeed, worrying issues concerning the impacts of the mining activity on the environment which included impact on buildings, farmlands, crops and water systems have emerged.
Several buildings were observed to have developed different degrees of cracks with some near collapse. These cracks were basically due to strong vibrations coming from rock blasting.
Farmlands are usually lost to flood waters which are water pumped from the quarry pits and run- offs.
Dust from rock processing and unpaved (dusty) roads have settled on crops and other plants as a result of sedimentation. High concentrations of dust on the plants result in poor plant performance and yield.
Meanwhile, responses from the communities which were based on health status before and after the establishment of the quarrying facilities offer strong grounds for attributing the deterioration in the people’s health to the impact of the quarrying activities and this is supported by the observed increase in dust related diseases from the time of start of quarrying activity.
Although residents alluded to the fact that there could be some benefits associated with quarrying, it is also responsible for several negative environmental and socio-economic impacts, particularly when the quarrying activity is carried out haphazardly and not as per the prescribed norms and regulations.
Source: Daily Heritage
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