Many rivers in Ghana are sources of livelihood for communities inhabited by them both domestic and commercial bases. These rivers are been utilized in the area of fishing, hydro electricity generation, irrigation, water for animals, washing and etc but many of them are polluted from one way to another by residents where they are located. Some of the rivers polluted are river Ankobra, River Tano, white volta and other tributaries.
Most of the pollution is caused by the activities of small scale mining popularly known in the local palace “ GALAMSY” in Ghana. River Ankobra in the western region is virtually polluted with the activities of the “GALAMSY” causing environmental degradation.
“A lot of fishes were caught, farmers used it for irrigation and even residents used the water from the river for domestic purposes” says the general secretary of concern citizens association of prestea, Nyame Domime whom for the past years have been fighting for local content in the mining sector in prestea and its environs.
He went further to enumerate how the association held series of meetings some of the multi- nationals who controls the concessions in making a good deal for the communities that gold is mined by multinational companies in the catchment area like Golden star resources.
Golden Star resources, was expected to resume regular large scale underground mining in 2013 after undergoing a temporary shut down during the last decade. More than 5000 regular mine workers were laid off, resulting in the loss of livelihoods which in turn drove scores of children out of school.
Small ships can navigate 80 kilometres (40 nmi; 50 mi) inland, whilst the upper reaches contain rapids. Several hydro electric schemes have been proposed for the upper reaches. In a news report carried by a Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah of the daily graphic dated Wednesday, 10 June 2015 indicates some plans by Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) through a Ghanaian company, Small Hydro Company Limited (SHDCL), is expected to start the construction of three dams in the first quarter of 2017 after the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is completed.
The company will build the dams using the Run of River Technology to generate the power to support the country’s power installations. Which shows the importance of the river and the need to preserve nad use it into good use.
The three small hydro dams are to be constructed on the Ankobra River in the Western Region at the cost of $164 million according to the Chief Executive Officer of Small Hydro Company Limited (SHDCL), Mr Kwadwo Poku, who briefed the Daily Graphic about the project, said the company had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) as off-takers for 42MW of hydropower.
A visit to Prestea Township really depicts how much river Ankobra is polluted with a lot of “GALAMSY” processing “bases’ doted along the river. Kweku Peter who have been in “GALAMSY” for the past 12 years admitted the knowledge of polluting the river but said is the only source of livelihood left for them because farming is not attractive to them anymore where most of the nearby farms have been converted for mining by multi-national mining giants. We the youth in the area now support our families with the little proceeds we earn from the “GALAMSY” which most of us have attained tertiary education through this livelihood, he said.
Some of the GALAMSY bases near river Ankobra, Prestea
Kweku Peter, a GALAMSY operator at Prestea being interview by journalists
The Abakoma Hene of the Heman traditional council, Nana Kwan Nsowah II, divisional chief in the area said there was nothing the traditional council could do when the river started polluting by the activities of small scale miners due to the high unemployment in the area. And said the “GALAMSY” fetches a lot of revenue to families in the area where one person earned about GHC 400 a day minimum and is difficult to stop the activities but will sit down with implementing agencies to ensure the right thing is done because is also affecting them.
The Abakoma Hene hinted that, there is a sum of $ 28,000 royalty from Golden star resources meant for the development of the mining communities but is still with Golden star resources and efforts to access the money proves futile. He is therefore appealing to government and other stakeholders to intervene.