The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, last Thursday, ordered a salt mining company, Seven Seas, at Adina in the Ketu South District of the Volta Region, to, with immediate effect stop drawing underground water for its operations.
The order follows a raging standoff between residents of the area and the company over the decision of the company to extract underground water for salt production.
Mr Amewu, who was on a working visit to the site, had separate meetings with the people and management of the company and asked the company to respect the agreement that allowed them to mine at Adina.
He said the government was private sector friendly, but would ensure that there was a level playing field for every Ghanaian.
Responding to explanation by the company that there was no willingness of the locals to allow the construction of the pipe from the sea to the ponds through their lands, Mr Amewu said government would ensure that ‘space’ was given to the company to construct the channel to draw water from the sea.
Mr Amewu urged the company to involve the local people in its operations through their representatives.
The people complained to Mr Amewu that coconut trees were dying, source of drinking water was drying up and their livelihood was being affected by the operations of the salt mining company.
The Minister commiserated with them and pledged to ensure their concerns were addressed including discussing with relevant authorities to extend pipe borne water to the community.
The company, which started its operations in the area in 2010, has 15 years operating license, to mine salt in the area, and as part of it, water from the lagoon was supposed to be used for the production of salt for seven years and the sea water for the rest of the agreement duration.
Per the contractual agreement with the company, the northern section of the salt mine, was to be reserved for the people to continue with their trade.
The people lamented that the high level salty water for the production was supposed to flow into the ponds naturally, but the company started extracting underground water for their operations drawing the water in the pond of the locals.
The Ghanaian Times observed that the ponds of the company and the locals, was separated by about a 10-meter space, and whiles those of the company were full to the brim, ponds of the locals were almost dried up.
The Public Relations Officer of the company, Mr Adams Mensah said the company would comply with the directives of the minister, as it awaits its intervention in getting it the lane through which it will lay its pipe to the sea, some 400 meters away, to extract water for its productions.
From Julius Yao Petetsi, Adina