Some illegal mining operators popularly known as Galamseyers have taken over the concession of the Great Consolidated Diamonds Ghana Limited (GCDGL) at Akwatia in the Eastern Region.
The miners are carrying on their illegal mining activities at some strategic locations of the company including where the bungalows and residents of the management and staff of the company are.
During a visit to the site, http://eveningmailgh.com found that apart from the illegal mining activities, management of the company were also selling parts of the machinery of the company they inherited as scraps.
Consequently, a group in the area known as Akwatia Development Association (AkDA) had raised red flags about the activities of the company. The group is therefore calling on the Divestiture Implementation Committee and the government to fast track the processes of taking the company from GCDGL in order save the company from total collapse.
The group’s request has yielded results. Speaking to some media personnel at Akwatia on Wednesday 1st May, 2019, Mr. Kwadwo Obeng Darko, Vice President of the AkDA thanked the Government of Ghana, the MP for the area, Ama Sey, DCE for the Denkyembour District Assembly and the Eastern Regional Minister “for finally listening to the cries of the people of Akwatia and through the Divestiture Implementations Committee (DIC), starting the process of getting rid of GCDGL, and perhaps to bring in a more capable company to take over the affairs of the company.”
The group however pleaded with parliament to delegate the parliamentary select committee on mining to pay a visit to the mining site of GCDL in Akwatia unannounced for their own observation and recommendations and also requested for an investigation to be launched into the ongoing Galamsey activities currently ongoing at the site.
However, another group calling themselves Concerned Youth of Akwatia has accused the members of the Akwatia Development Association of playing politics with the plight of the people of Akwatia.
According to the group, members of the AkDA are going round using old pictures of the company to deceive the general public into believing that the company is ‘collapsing’.
Speaking to the Media, Mr. Samuel Debrah, Chairman of the group said the pictures been shown around by the AkDA group are pictures that were taken before 2016 and called on the members of the AkDA to stop playing politics with the plight of the people.
Explaining what is happening at the GCDGL with the current mining activities ongoing, Mr. Yaw Opoku, Secretary of the Concerned youth of Akwatia stated that, the company since time immemorial has been given some portions of their concessions to individuals to mine and the company take percentage from the activities. “The company uses heavy machinery. There are some places, they know that when they mine using their heavy machineries, they will run at a lost, so they give such places to individuals with capacity to mine and give percentage to the company. This arrangement has always existed even before the sale of the original GCD to GCDGL and we find it amazing that these people who have benefitted from similar arrangement in the past will be raising red flags now.” He said.
“The people working there are not galamseyers. They have their licenses, they went for the government training at UMAT, Tarkwa and have the capacity to do what they are doing and they are employing people from this community, so why try to tarnish their image.” He added.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the AkDA insists that the activities ongoing are illegal mining since managers of GCDGL do not have the concession any longer. Mr. David A. Kwarshie General Secretary of AkDA stated that the DIC in a letter dated 9th April, 2019, through its Solicitors wrote to GCDGL revoking the contract of sale on the basis of non-payment of the balance of the sale price and among others indicated their preparedness to re-enter and take possession of the assets.
He said selling parcels of lands to small scale miners who pay between GHS 50,000 to 70,000 to the company when the DIC has written to the company is an exercise in illegality and amount to extortion and maintained that the people buying the lands are therefore engaging in illegal mining.
Sometime in the 2010, the Government of the of Ghana through the Divestiture Implementation Committee sold the assets of the then Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited, which was then solely owned by the Government to the Great Consolidated Diamonds Ghana Limited (GCDGL) associated with Mr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, of the Jospong Group of Companies.
The Government at the time entered into an Asset Sale and Purchase Agreement with GCDGL and as part of the terms of the said contract, the assets of GCD were sold to GCDGL for $17,000,000 upon certain terms and conditions.
However, as at 5th December, 2011 GCDGL only made part payment of $2,700,000 according to the sale contract executed by the parties.
GCDGL has since not made any payment to the government. As results of the fallouts from the inactions of the company’s non-performance, there has been joblessness, incessant school dropouts, petty thievery, prostitution among the youths, educational achievements in the district are relatively low, teenage pregnancies etc with several of the youth also running from the town making Akwatia a ‘ghost town’.
As at November last year, GCDGL owed electricity bill to GRIDCO to a tune of more than GHC5million ($1million) leading to the disconnection of power to the entire company and communities around.