People in the Jomoro District of the Western Region support a plan to build a gas plant in their backyard to utilize gas from the jubilee oil field but they are concerned that the construction of the plant will deprive their children of lands for future use.
“We are not enemies to the project. We like it because it will halt rural-urban migration. But the right thing must be done. That’s all!” says Peter Nweah, assemblyman for the Aka Sunzo electoral area in Bonyere.
“Our major problem now is they should give us some of the land for future development,” S. T. Awuah, Secretary to Concerned Citizens Association, Jomoro said in support of Nweah’s point.
Awuah adds that “We all want the business to be successful.” However, “our problem is…the buffer zone [the area around the plant]. It is too large.” The duo, together with four other opinion leaders, had defied a heavy downpour on Saturday morning to meet and chat with a team of journalists and trainers from Accra in a hut located a few meters from the town’s makeshift market.
The state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is acquiring a total of 18 square kilometers of land to build a $1.2 billion gas plant to pipe associated gas from the jubilee field for processing. The plant is expected to produce 300 million cubic feet of gas daily for power generation and domestic use.
The project site and the buffer zone, located in the western part of the town, have swallowed up land demarcated for second cycle education and other projects, according to the Citizens Association. Bonyere is bordered to the south by the sea and to the east and north by two other communities.
But a well-placed source at the GNPC says the communities have little to worry about because the Corporation is now identifying and demarcating the site for the project. He indicates, however, that it is too early to begin looking at the nitty-gritty of the acquisition.
He assures that the community’s concerns would not be overlooked.
According to Nweah, Awuah and other opinion leaders, the construction of the gas plant might lead to population boom; their children who migrated to other places in Ghana and abroad for lack of job opportunities are likely to return. In view of this, they would require sufficient amount of land for development.
In the mean time, they accuse the GNPC of improper entry into their land, claiming the corporation took advantage of a chieftaincy dispute in Bonyere and entered their land without prior consultation and negotiation.
“We just saw it in the [Daily] Graphic that GNPC have acquired land over here so they started coming in. In fact, a lot of us were not even aware. So it was through this association that we invited GNPC to come and tell us what they need the land for,” Awuah told the team of trainers and reporters who had gone to Bonyere as part of a tour of the Western Region. The tour was part of a training on ‘Reporting on the Oil & Gas Industry’ organized for selected Ghanaian journalists by the International Institute for ICT Journalism (Penplusbytes) and Revenue Watch Institute in association with Thomson Reuters Foundation.
More than one thousand individual small-holder farmers from six communities (Bonyere, Ahobre, Takinta, Egbazo, Kabenla-Suazo and Ndum-Suazo) in the district risk losing their farmlands along with their livelihoods. At least six hundred of them are from Bonyere, where government intends to cite the gas plant, according to the Citizens Association.
The communities specialize in coconut plantations. They fear that the acquisition will result in the destruction of the farms and consequent loss of several thousands of Ghana cedis income to the farmers.
source : public agenda