Ghana’s largest miner for more than 10 years, Anglo gold Ashanti recent massive retrenchment may have dire consequence on the economy.
The company retained about 6,000 workforces by mid November. The effect first of all on the people of Obuasi may be devastating. 600 is the number retained from the main mining department and 100 from its hospital.
Although retrenchment packages were given to them, the processes to access this fund is problematic and poses a challenge and ones ability to manage in a beneficial way since majority of the workers are not privy to financial instruments to invest in, although AG engaged them in a series of workshops, seminars with the aim of sensitizing them on how to profitably use these finances.
58 year old John Mensah, is a site supervisor at Anglo gold Anyinam Water Treatment Center who laments the decision by his miners management to retrench workers. According to him, although the company compensated them, some have been duped by fraudsters with a quest of securing visas for them to seek greener pastures outside.
Again, about 10 people collapsed and died immediately as they received their letters over the period due to overexcitement and shock of such huge packages. An average of Ghc12, 000 was paid each worker with the highest serving worker of 40 years receiving Ghc15million.
He however, has not received his letter although he has worked with the company close to 32 years.
Furthermore, Anglo gold has outsourced the development of the mine after its closure to PT Benakat Integra Tbk company; an Indonesian based integrated energy company after its shutdown in November. Thereafter, soldiers will be deployed to protect that concession.
Similarly, on the issue of health, Mr. Richard Eliam, Centre for Social Impact Assessment in Prestea says about 6,000 of the workers retrenched will lose the NHIS, which hitherto allows them to access medical care at a reduce rate or no cost at all although health facilities are evenly spread in the municipality.
Citrus is one of the major commodities in Obuasi, and Mr. Mensah believes investing in this alternative industry could be considered in the new future in the quest to restore hope to the municipality.
One cannot easily forget an interview with 40 year old Bright Attah, a civil engineer with Force 5 Engineering Limited, a company contracted by Anglo Gold Ashanti to do fabrication, wielding, electrical, among others. His main concerned is though he does not work with Anglo gold and therefore was not directly affected as a result of the retrenchment, he is worried contract with Force 5 Eng limited and Anglo Gold may be abrogated sooner or later by Benakat the subsidiary to Anglo gold. He is however, optimistic that Anglo gold operations will begin again two years time as the company had announced.
Attah is married with four children. Force 5 Engineering Company is a multi-national company providing mining services such as wielding, fabrication and electrical all over the world. He has been working with the company for eight years now.
The socio-economic impact also can be visibly seen and felt as the once vibrant town virtually becoming a ghost town with businesses folding up and leaving while most mining workers return to their native towns.
There are talks with KNUST to set up a campus annex in Obuasi to bring back the vibrant nature of the town while promoting education.