LANDOWNERS in the Banso Old Town in the Western Region have dragged Ghana Manganese Mining Company (GMC) to the Tarkwa High Court over illegal demolition of their houses and farmlands without any compensation.
The case, with suit number E3/1/2021 was brought before the court by counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Augustine Niber, of Centre for Public Interest Law.
The landowners are seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights to property and dignity.
The landowners numbering about fifty-eight (58) in the writ of summon which was served on July 10 2020 are seeking nine (9 reliefs from the court including a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their privies, and agents from further demolishing their homes, until full and satisfactory compensation and resettlement have been provided by the defendant to them.
They are asking the court to order the defendant (Ghana Manganese Mining Company) to pay prompt and adequate compensation to the plaintiffs herein prior to the imminent destruction of their buildings, houses, farmlands and structures.
The applicants also want 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).
Furthermore, the plaintiffs are 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.
They also asked the court to “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 asked the court to direct the defendants to negotiate and resettle the plaintiffs appropriately.
In an affidavit deposed to by the counsel for the landowners, it was stated that sometime around November 2012, management of GMMC in a town hall meeting with the inhabitants of Old Town community at Tarkwa Banso community centre expressed its desire to mine for manganese deposit at a hill adjacent to the community.
The Plaintiffs averred that at the said meeting, GMMC before the entire community made a declaration that the resettlement would every building—completed and uncompleted. And that uncompleted buildings would be completed if the community agreed to their resettlement proposal.
According to the landowners, 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 Old Town for the purposes of negotiating compensation and resettlement of the community.
At the said enumeration, the defendant captured some of the buildings and structures belonging to the plaintiffs but failed and refused to enumerate some properties of the plaintiffs though same was shown to the defendants.
The Plaintiffs claimed that although a series of meetings were held by GMMC 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) 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 the 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 maintained that the defendants had refused to negotiate the terms of resettlement and compensation in good faith with them 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.
They said they even petitioned the minister for lands and natural resources against the harmful effects of the defendant’s mining operation and the resettlement process.
The plaintiffs noted that the defendants will not suitably resettle and compensate the Plaintiffs as required by law unless ordered by this honourable court to do so.
Meanwhile, the defendant has filed their defence.
It would be recalled that GMC which is operating a mining concession for manganese at Banso on Friday July 10, 2020 demolished dozens of houses and structures of residents at Banso without recourse to the Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement ) Regulations ( L.I. ), which situation was brewing up tension in the community
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