Chiefs clash with residents over Atewa Forest

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Some chiefs living on the fringes of the Atewa Forest Reserve have denounced the action of a group calling itself the Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape (CCAL), who have fiercely protested against bauxite mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve.

Members of CCAL have asked government to show proof of any best bauxite mining technology that protects forests during and after mining. They say their understanding of bauxite mining indicates that there are no “best practices” in any part of the world that protects forest while mining is ongoing.

The group last week embarked on a peaceful protest, dubbed “yen pene”, to send a message to the government and various stakeholders that the mining of bauxite in the reserve will only benefit a few, and destroy the greener forest and its immediate surroundings.

In 2019, the group embarked on similar walk from Kyebi to Accra to petition major stakeholders on the need to exclude Atewa Forest from the Sinohydro deal.

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Aliens?

However, the chiefs, in a statement signed by Osabarima Marfo Kwabrane, Kyebihene and Abontendomhene of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, declared the protesters as “aliens” who managed to stage their campaign on the blindside of the chiefs and people of the area.

The chiefs contend that the organisers and their supporters cannot force their wishes on the people of Atewa, saying they have had consultations with the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation (GIADEC) and are optimistic the bauxite mining will not be as reckless as being portrayed by the group.

“On the contrary, we are willing to work with Government to achieve his vision of developing an Integrated Aluminum Industry in Ghana,” the chiefs said.

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“It is our belief that when GIADEC and its partners commence operations within the reserve, it would be effectively managed and protected. We will like to advise the organisers of the demonstration to desist from using the community name without consulting nananom and the good people of Atewa,” they added.

Response

Responding to the chiefs, CCAL, in a statement released by its public relations officer, Nana Ampem Darko Amponsah, said they are not perturbed by the tag of aliens.

The statement said members of the group have never referred to themselves as indigenes, but citizens of the nation.

“Even the tag of aliens is not a bother to us because after visiting Prof Frempong Boateng and seeing the calibre of persons we were, he turned round, rather derogatorily, to describe us as galamseyers,” the statement added.

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The statement accused the chiefs of doing the bidding of GIADEC, to help it denigrate the Atewa Forest.

“It must also, however, be drummed home to the chiefs that the ATEWA forest reserve is not the preserve of Akyem Abuakwa, and for that matter Kyebi, for them to arrogate to themselves the right of determination of the future of the enclave,” they noted.

Meanwhile, the group has sent an invitation to the chiefs for a visit to Awaso to witness the extent of damage mining has caused in the area.

“We can vouch that on their return they voluntarily would become apostles of a national park crusade. This visit without doubt will give them a good appreciation of the subject matter and commit them to saving the ATEWA forest for now and posterity,” they said.

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