The Bui Power Authority (BPA) has expressed concern that the continuous activities of illegal miners within its acquired land area pose a significant threat to the operations of the Bui Hydroelectric dam, which could affect power generation.
According to the Authority, illicit miners are causing massive vegetative degradation within the enclave through excavation; the practice has left the water reservoir susceptible to siltation that could negatively affect levels of production in the future.
“Our major concern is the wave of degradation to vegetation around the dam area by these illegal miners. They render the land loose, and whenever it rains all the lose particles — including poisonous chemicals — wash down into the reservoir, which has the tendency to reduce the water level and so will eventually affect power generation,” Wumbilla Salifu, External and Community Relations Manager-BPA, has said.
Illegal mining along the Black Volta had been in operation decades before construction of the dam. The small alluvial gold mining has now manifested into a booming industry at the peripheries of the hydro-dam.
But speaking at a press briefing, Mr. Salifu noted that the use of explosives and firearms could also spell doom for the installation because of its close proximity to the illegal mining site; while the poisonous chemicals also have health implications for consumers of fish from the Bui Lake.
The BPA, he said, has teamed up with the National Security to tame the illegal miners — particularly at Banda-Nkwanta where their activities are rampant — in order to prevent the menace from ruining the 400megawatt generating capacity dam.
Meanwhile, some local residents have accused the deployed security personnel of conniving with other people to perpetrate the juicy, illegal business. According to the residents, the security forces have created a safe haven for their cronies to mine…especially at night.
“The security personnel are only here to enrich themselves. They initially sacked all locals who were mining and later substituted us with people who are now working for them. They did not come here to protect the dam but to make money,” a local resident told B&FT on condition of anonymity.
In another development, residents have raised a red flag over the influx of immigrants to the vicinity who have resorted to illegal fishing practices. Since the impoundment of the Bui Lake, the place has been flooded with many fisher-folk including foreigners from Mali, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.
The fear of indigenes is the imminent fast depletion of fish stock in the lake, a situation they lament would deny them their source of livelihood. Fishing is the major economic activity in the Bui catchment area, hence their worry.
In an effort to regulate fishing activities there, the BPA has constructed landing sites at vantage points to the lake. Mr. Salifu has noted that the Authority will not compromise on any form of illegal fishing practice. “We have collaboration with the Fisheries Commission, Wildlife Division and the Navy to stem all illegal fishing here,” he added