A report on the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Project has tasked the Government to work with Parliament, the Land Valuation Board, and the Environmental Protection Agency to resolve the violations against the thousands of people affected by the Project.
The government should also work additionally with civil societies and other relevant bodies to prevent such negative impacts from recurring as Ghana’s oil and gas industry continues to develop.
Titled, “An Overview of the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project Phase 1 and its Impacts on Local Communities,” the report says the Gas Project has come with serious social, economic, and environmental consequences for local communities whose farmlands and other resources have been cleared to pave way for the project.
There was also a failure by the company to consult or negotiate with affected people about compensation, inadequate, incomplete, and delayed compensation for some affected people, and no compensation at all for others, the report says.
According to the report there is an extensive damage to or destruction of essential private and community resources such as drinking water sources, fishing spots, and roads, which was typically not compensated for as well as serious financial hardship among those affected, leading to their inability to afford basic expenses like food, school fees, and medicine.
The Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), an indigenous registered, non-for-profit civil society organization that works in the interest of vulnerable individuals, groups and communities to advance their access to justice and legal protection, launched the 76-paged report.
It explores issues and impacts stemming from the current development of the Phase 1 of the Gas Project from a legal and human rights perspective.
The report contains legal analysis of the project implementation so far and discussion of future risks, and makes recommendations regarding the Gas Project and the entire oil and gas sector.
Mr Augustine Niber, Executive Director of CEPIL, who launched the report in Accra, said the problems and impacts of the Gas Project constitute serious violations of several Ghanaian laws, as well as several international human rights instruments that Ghana has ratified.
“There has generally been no access to justice for the affected communities, who are significantly disempowered by a lack of awareness of their rights, an inability to pay for lawyers, little assistance from their leaders, and a level of financial pressure that forces them to focus on the short-term”.
The report notes that with over 60 communities having had their farmlands and other resources cleared so far, the impacts of the Gas Project have been grave but compensation for affected persons and communities has been low or absent.
Meanwhile, those affected face many obstacles in accessing justice, it says.
STAR-Ghana funded the research, undertaken by CEPIL between May and August last year. It involved people from 15 communities in Ellembele, Jomoro, Nzema East, Tarkwa Nsuaem, Prestea Huni Valley, Ahanta West, Shama and Sekondi Takoradi, all in the Western Region.
The report shows a widespread clearing of crops belonging mainly to subsistence farmers with little or no advance notice, and little or no consultation with affected community members prior to the implementation of the Gas Project.
It also says that the Ghana National Gas Corporation (GNGC) began the process of surveying, claiming, and clearing land for the project before an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was completed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EIA was not completed until September 2012, more than three years after the initial surveying and more than a year after the start of construction.
Mr Niber said the combined, potentially long-term, and intergenerational significance of these impacts represent a serious assault on the human security and human rights of the people of the lower Western Region, and undermines the promise of development and opportunity that accompanied the Gas Project.
“Unless remedies are ensured, the net result of the Gas Project for the people of the region appears to be deeper poverty, greater difficulty meeting their basic needs, and a bleaker future for them and their children”.
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