GHANA Manganese Mining Company (GMC) which is operating a mining concession for manganese at Banso in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality of the Western Region has demolished dozens of houses and structures of the residents at Banso worth over billions of Ghana Cedis without paying compensations to the affected residents which situation has created tension, confusion and insecurity in the area.
The demolishing exercise by the manganese mining company which was done on Friday, July 10, 2020, has pulled down several housing structures rendering more than hundred people homeless.
According to the sources close to the affected residents, the company posted the notice of demolition on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, alerting the community of carrying out the exercise on Monday, July 13, 2020, but suddenly the residents were shocked to their bone when the contractors of the company stormed the community on Friday, July 10, 2020, with bulldozers to demolish their houses without recourse to the Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2175)
This notwithstanding, the contractors with the protection of the armed police officers on Friday, July 10, 2020, also disconnected electricity connection at Banso community.
But for the timely interventions of the management of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) after a report by affected people,the people would have had their power disconnected..
Speaking in an interview with some senior journalists via telephone call yesterday, scores of the affected residents expressed shock over the demolition of their houses by the company without even paying their compensations or resettling them and described the action of the company as completely unlawful, insensitive and criminal.
According to the affected residents, they were in the borne of contention with the manganese mining company as a result of improper negotiation of the resettlement compensation packages.
They pointed out that they were resisting not to go and occupy the place the company has built to resettle them because the number of the rooms in the building structures were not up to their rooms they are living in before the company wanted to relocate them.
“We were even shocked because we are still in the negotiation stage with the Resettlement Monitoring Committee of the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assembly trying to address the issue and we have not completed the processes but the company has gone ahead to order the contractors to demolish our houses which situation has completely rendered us homeless,” the residents stated.
Against this backdrop, the affected residents numbering about fifty-nine (59) have sued the Ghana Manganese Mining Company in the High Court of Justice in Tarkwa for unlawful demolition of their houses and farmlands including cash crops without paying the compensations due them.
The plaintiffs are pleading with the High Court to order for a perpetual injunction directed at the defendant herein restraining it and all others claiming through it from proceeding to demolish or destroy or remove any of the buildings or structures owned or inhabited by the plaintiffs until full and satisfactory compensation and resettlement have been provided by the defendant to the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs further asking the court
to order the defendant which is the Ghana Manganese Mining Company Limited to pay prompt and adequate compensation to the plaintiffs herein prior to the imminent destruction of their buildings, houses, farmlands and structures.
The plaintiffs in the case are Albert Kingsley Prah, Thomas Yeboah Alex Appiah, Grace Damoah, Getrude Sommah Himans, Mathew Awotwe, Patience Sokpah, Patience Oforiwaa, Kofi Nyanten, Peter Essel, Mathew Freeman, Kwaku Appanyin, Faustina Aidoo,Ruth Himans, Philip Quaicoo, Meshack Appiah, Janet Ndur, Frederick Sagoe, Francis Kwabena Bio, Kwabena Kyei, Mohamadu Awuni, Yaw Gyenin ,John Kofi, Christopher Essiedu, Mercy Prah, Joseph Nyantakyi, Ruth Kwofie, Efua Tiwaa, Peter Amponsah, Mary Asare, Yaa Agoh,Akosua Badu, Daniel Ntiful, Ama Dumah, Akua Appiah, Ama Soh, Ama Ampomah,Aba Kwansema and Akua Asaase.
The rest are Ama Animwaa, Faustina Ackah, Ekua Tawiah, Daniel Eshun, Isaac Mensah, Yaa Ampomah, Maame Saah, Dinah Dauda, Agnes Dauda, Kofi Nii Baah, Francis Kofi Prah,Albert Gyebir, Michael Gyimah, Kofi Brobbey, Beatrice Kowfie, John Prah, Hanna Donkor, Rachael Dawda and Mary Ankomah
A statement of case filed on July 8, 2020, on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Counsel at the Center for Public Interest Law, the legal firm situated at Haatso in the Greater Accra Region, Mr Augustine Niber is asking the court to make a declaration that the plaintiffs being owners or lawful occupiers whose permanent dwelling and other immovable properties are affected by the proposed mineral operation of the Ghana Manganese Company Limited (a holder of a mining lease), are “inhabitants” as defined in the Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2175).
The plaintiffs in the claims of the statement are praying the court to declare that as inhabitants, the plaintiffs are entitled to compensation of and resettlement from the defendant as a condition precedent to the lawful commencement of operations on the concession by the defendant.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the commencement of activities and operations by the defendants before the resettlement of plaintiffs, is unlawful and contrary to section 14(3) of Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2175).
The plaintiffs further praying the court to declare that the continued delay and/or refusal by the defendant to promptly compensate the plaintiffs and subsequent threats to forcibly evict them and demolish their buildings, structures, farmlands and other properties which serve as their only and main place of abode is unlawful under the 1992 Constitution and other relevant laws of Ghana.
The court according to the plaintiffs, should declare that the continued delay and/or refusal by the defendant to promptly resettle the plaintiffs before carrying out the destruction of their buildings, structures and other properties which serve as their only or main place of abode is unlawful under the 1992 Constitution and other relevant laws of Ghana.
The plaintiffs are asking the court
to directed at the defendants to negotiate and resettle the plaintiffs appropriately.
The Plaintiffs averred that they are the owners and lawful occupiers of houses, farmlands and other structures at Tarkwa-Banso old town where they have been carrying on their farming activities at all material times before the arrival of the defendant.
The Plaintiffs averred that sometime around November 2012, management of Ghana Manganese Company in a town hall meeting with the inhabitants of Oldtown community at Tarkwa Banso community center, expressed its desire, to mine for manganese deposit at a hill adjacent to the community.
And to this end, suggested a verbal compensation and resettlement of residents whose properties and farmlands were located within the 500-meter radius, which represents the legal requirement for resettlement of affected people by mining operations.
The Plaintiffs also stated that at the said meeting, GMC before the entire community made a declaration that the resettlement will be that every building completed or uncompleted would be built if the community agreed to the resettlement proposal.
The plaintiffs averred further that the defendant and /or their agents subsequent to the community meeting came to the community to undertake an enumeration of the structures and buildings in Tarkwa Banso Oldtown for the purposes of negotiating compensation and resettlement of the community.
At the said enumeration the defendant captured some of the building and structures belonging to the plaintiffs but failed and refused to enumeration some properties of the plaintiffs though same was shown to the defendants.
The Plaintiffs claim that although a series of meetings were held by GMC with the community from 2012 until 2017 to try and resolve the issues, the parties could not come to a consensus as to the details of the compensation and resettlement of all affected plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs said that subsequent to this meeting and contrary to its promise, the Ghana Manganese Company (GMC) has started actual mining and mining activities on the said hill without making adequate and prompt payment of compensation and resettlement to the plaintiffs before commencing its activities.
The plaintiffs averred that as a result of the blatant disregard to requirements of the law, the plaintiffs are at the receiving end of all the negative impacts associated with the company’s mining operations resulting in the development of cracks of buildings, frightening noises and tremors from vibrations resulting from regular and unannounced blasting, noise and dust pollutions and threats of forceful evictions from the management of the company.
The plaintiffs maintain that the defendants have refused to negotiate the terms of resettlement and compensation in good faith with the plaintiffs as required by law.
The plaintiffs stated that several efforts have been made by the community to seek assistance from the local authorities including sending petitions to the Municipal Chief Executive of the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assembly and copying the Western Regional Minister.
The plaintiffs also petitioned the sector minister for Lands and Natural against the harmful effects of the defendant mining operation and the resettlement process.
The plaintiffs say that the defendants will not suitably resettle and compensate the Plaintiffs as required by law unless ordered by this honourable court to do so.
Watch Video of some of the demolished structures below