SCORES of residents at Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie, the farming and gold mining community in the Asuagyah South District of the Central Region are currently living in morbid fear and danger, following the constance invasions of their various houses by the loads of snakes and other poisonous reptiles, which they lamented needs an urgent intervention of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to avert the alarming problem.
This frightening phenomenon, according to the residents, was as a result of alleged persistence refusal of the Perseus Mining Ghana Limited (PMGL), the multi-national gold mining company operating in the area to resettle the residents of Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie who were affected by the under ground gold mining activities of the company.
The affected residents numbering about eight (8), stated that they were currently in a cold war between the company because the PMGLwanted to cheat them by way of building sub-standard houses to them as the resettlement packages which does not met the standard of their previous houses being built on the land of where the company has taken for its underground gold mining activities.
They disclosed that since the company took over the land at Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie which was in the buffer zone of the company mine intake, the company declared moratorium on the buildings and farming activities of the residents and promised in contractual land access negotiation agreement to resettle them to the sustainable alternative lands as enshrined in the Mineral and Mining laws.
But they lamented that for the past nine years of the declaration of moratorium, the fratic efforts being made by them to ensure that the company moved or resetlled them have hit a snag, making some of them to go ahead to do an extension works on their buildings because of the increments of their children.
This notwithstanding, the residents noted that the refusal on the part of the company to resettle the affected residents on the time, has made the area to turn into bushes, making the snakes and other poisonous reptiles to hide in the bushes which are currently chasing them in their various houses.
In a fact findings mission to Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie on Tuesday June 23, 2020 to authenticate the complains by the mining affected residents, this reporter observed that the refusal of the company to resettle the residents cum the declaration of the moratorium on the building of the houses on the lands for which the residents have legelly bought from the allodia land owner of Ayanfuri, Mr Sika Kwame have adversely affected the livelihoods of the residents.
This reporter can authoritatively report that the delay of the PMGL to resettle those affected residents has also resulted to the bizarre situation when more than five persons whose are ages between 30 to 45 are sleeping at one bed room.
What is very annoying, according to the residents was what they described as the incoherent and inhumane decision taken by the company to reduce the sizes of their rooms to be built for them at Ayanfuri new resettlement project site.
According to the residents, they couldn’t fathom why the company has allegedly decided to build housing units which could contain two to three bed rooms including halls and toilet facilities to the residents who had originally built their own house facilities containing six, seven and nine bed rooms including chambers and halls.
Taking this reporter around the building structures of the affected residents at Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie, he saw that some building structures on the lands which have been taken by the company are in the high quality or standard than the houses the company designed in its resettlement land access building agreement plan to build for the eight affected residents.
Earlier at the meeting with affected residents at Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie on Tuesday June 23, 2020, their Chairman and spokesperson, Mr Alex Bimpong stated that the company wanted to dislocate them from their present location of Ayanfuri Kakrayebedie to where some of the people have been sent [Ayanfuri new site].
He stressed that”we donot like to go to that place because we are cheated by the company in the connection of the resettlement compensation packages and also donot like the designs of the building structures the company decided to build for us at the new resettlement location.”
Mr Bimpong indicated that they were resisted not to go there because their checks have revealed the very poor living conditions of the first berge of the residents of Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie who were resettled to the new area.
Mr Bimpong stated that “Our investigations also have revealed that the two hundred people who were being the first persons to be resettled to Ayanfuri New Site by the company are currently facing a number of serious problems which include erosion, floods, lack of public toilet facility, market centre, lorry station, recreational centre and non availability of farm lands among others and that we donot want to go and experience that difficult situation there.”
He added that “even the standard of the buildings at the suckaway channels at Ayanfuri resettlement project site have been choked, thereby leaving the already resettled residents to ease themselves in the bushes.”
He decried over the gross disrespect meted out to them by the management of the company since its operations in Ayanfuri.
He complained that the company has taken them for granted and cited an instance where the company sometimes engaged the services of the team of soldiers and police officers to terrorize and harass them when a little misunderstanding arose between the company and residents.
Tthe development, Mr Bimpong noted has compiled them to officially petition the Manager of PMGL and declared in their letter which read in parts that; “We are no longer wanted the company to resettle us to its Ayanfuri resettlement site because the place is too far from the Ayanfuri township and there are no place that we can farm on since we are farmers.
The letter indicated that “There have been litacy of promises from the management of PMGL which have been not yet fulfilled. We are living with our families under the bizarre circumstances, the situation has compiled husbands to leave at the same roof of three or more children. The most painful is that we are banned of the company to discontinue the extension projects of our houses to accommodate our more children.
The letter noted “The last reason we have is that we have no longer want the company to resettle us and the reason was that the measurement given to various rooms to be built for us by the company were absolutely reduced the number of the rooms hitherto the person had.
“This is also troubling and we feel that the PMGL has not shown enough commitment to better the lives of the people. Instead the company was rather worsing our lives with the resettlement packages it has tabled for consideration,” this is one of the letters written to PMGL by the affected residents at Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie.
They stressed that “What we are saying now is that since the company has delayed to resettle us for the nine solid years then the only thing we want now is the company to sit down with us and renegotiate on the methods of how to resettle and pay our compensation due us because when the company delayed of resettling us we have done many extension works on our existing buildings since our families or children have continued to increase,” Mr Bimpong stressed.
“In Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie farming is our business; we are able to finance our children’s education from the sales of cocoa and cash crops like oil palm.
“We are an agricultural community and we want to remain as farmers hence demanding for our resettlement to the sustainable alternative land and not the Ayanfuri New Site because the company since its operations in Ayanfuri use dangerous chemicals for its operations which pollute our water bodies and also destroy our farm lands in the area.
“We the people in Ayanfuri – Kakrayebedie are farmers who usually engage in the production of food crop such as maize, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa, but over the years the company has destroyed our natural resources and vast arable land making standard of living nothing to write home about,” they lamented.
In this vein, the residents called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to immediately intervene by way of ordering the company to resettle and compensate the affected farmers or residents in the Ayanfuri – Kakrayebedie area.
Responding to the allegations leveled against the company, the Senior Resettlement Coordinator of PMGL, Mr. Benard Kwabena Adjei and the Settlement Officer of PMGL, Mr Julius Owusu have taken a swipe at the residents for publicly peddling falsehoods against the company which has been working hard to improve lives of its host community members.
Conducting this reporter through the housing units built for the affected residents at Ayanfuri new site, the two
pointed out that the standard of the resettlement building structures the company has built for the affected residents with the agreement of the members of the Resettlement Compensation Negotiation Committee (RCNC) including affected residents and Ayanfuri Traditional Authorities are of best qualities or best standards than their existing building structures at their previous location at Ayanfuri Kakrayebedie.
They described the allegations leveled against the company as factually incorrect, saying that they were disappointed and disagreed with the eight residents over their misconduct and misleading actions since some representatives of the affected residents were actively consulted or involved in the discussion of the housing provisions and designs, resettlement layout plan and community infrastructure as proposed and finalised by the RCNC .
They noted that the company being the law abiding multinational gold mining firm has successfully resetlled the first berge of a total of two hundred (200) residents of their previous location at Ayanfuri Kakrayebedie to its Ayanfyri new resettlement site who are currently living good or better.
They pointed out that these disgruntled residents were being influenced by Mr Bimpong to make such disparaging remarks against the company just to tarnish its image company, adding that the company has dully paid their crops compensation including payments of other building structures which are on footing stages as was agreed by the Resettlement Compensation Negotiation Committee.
Describing the actions of the residents as a double standard, the two provided the documentary evidence of the agreement resettlement packages between the residents and company to support their claims that indeed the company has not breached the land access resetllement negotiation agreement under the provision of the Minerals and Mining laws and regulations.
Stressing the enforcement of effective implementation of the Minerals and Mining laws and regulations by gold mining company in its host communities including Asuagyah South District underground mining project in Ayanfuri, Mr Adjei and Owusu noted that the buildings of the housing designs for the residents to be resettled or those are already resettled are in conformity with applicable Ghana Planning Regulations and Building Regulations.
On the allegation of the rampant invasions of snakes and other poisonous reptiles to the houses of the residents at Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie, Mr Adjei and Owusu bave admitted of their outfit receiving of the complains from the residents in that regard but were quick to deny allegations by the residents that the company has not been ordering for the weeding of the area.
“We want to say that these allegations leveled against the company by the residents are untrue and baseless because occasionally the company ordered for the weeding of the Ayanfuri-Kakrayebedie community and even sometimes the company ordered for the spraying of anti-venors (snake medicines) in the area,” they reaffirmed.
On his part, Director of Sustainability for PMGL,Mr.Edwin Acquaye stated that the company would not do anything untoward to abuse the foundation human rights of the residents in its gold mining host community.
Speaking in an interview with this via telephone call, Mr Acquaye entreated the affected residents who are yet to resettle to be calmed and assured the company’s commitment and readiness to continue to engage the residents to ensure that they are dully resettled to safeguard the company under-ground gold mining activities in the area.