A once beautiful town in a short time period has become a temple of dust. The atmosphere has turned into a cloudy dust capable of blocking the view of anyone standing fifteen meters away from an object.
Prestea, the town being used as a case study in this write up, is predominantly a mining community in Ghana located in the Prestea-Huni Valley District Assembly of the Western Region.
As Mr. Dominic Nyame – Secretary General of a community based pressure group by name Concerned Citizens Association of Prestea (CoCAP) - narrated the history of the Prestea Township which has virtually become like a rural community with an untarred road.
|FEJ Team in interaction with Mr. Nyame and his team|
So it happened that team joined Mr. Nyame and other executives of CoCAP at the Worker’s club- a community gathering centre.
He narrated that Prestea was a town which was top listed among the prominent towns in the history of Ghana for its mineral resource endowment.
It came to pass that in the early years, there was massive mining activities but not on the surface of the earth. Underground mining was the order of the day.
Everything was moving on well and every social amenity to make life comfortable was available in Prestea. “If you come to Prestea, then you had come to heaven”, he opined.
Mr. Nyame recalled that it was in the 1980’s when the falling of the world gold price propelled the Government of Ghana to introduce what was known to them as Economic Recovery Program (ERP). This was however followed by retrenchment which laid off a lot of the indigenes who largely made up the unskilled labor force for the mining companies.
According to Mr. Nyame, the fall in price of gold again in 1992 made room for the establishment a Divestiture Implementation Committee by the Government of Ghana. This committee saw to it that the mining sites were transferred to 'potential investors' in the economy of Ghana.
Introduction of Surface Mining
When the divestiture committee was introduced, they sold the mining area to the mining company called Bandex who were mining underground until a decline in gold price changed their style of operation.
They decided to mine the gold ore from the surface – something which the entire community protested against- because they claimed underground mining was too expensive for the company to make profits.
The people whose inhabitant was about to be destroyed stood up to protest greatly but whether it ended successfully is noting to hide considering the fruit it is yielding.
This was in 1999, a year to an election for the people of Ghana to make decisions as to who should lead the nation for the next four years.
The story continues …
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