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Anyinam residents protest AngloGold Ashanti’s decision to wean them off electricity supply

BY: Daniel Kenu
 Nana Kofi Tawiah (2nd left) speaking at the gathering. Picture: Daniel Kenu
Nana Kofi Tawiah (2nd left) speaking at the gathering. Picture: Daniel Kenu

A decision by AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) to wean residents of Anyinam in the Obuasi municipality off the mine’s electricity supply system has created apprehension in the community.

The people of Anyinam have enjoyed free power supply from the mining company for over 40 years now.

However, following the company’s reorganisation exercise, it has now decided to withdraw the support and hook the town onto the national electricity grid for the people to pay their own bills.

Protest

The decision has, however, not gone down well with the people, and the Regent of the town, Nana Kofi Tawiah, has given a month’s ultimatum to the mining firm to rescind its decision, otherwise the residents will reclaim the land or disrupt the operations of the company by embarking on demonstrations for six months.

Meanwhile, shops in the town have been closed down and transport services suspended in the area as part of measures by the people to register their protest.

What seemed to have triggered the protest was that last Friday the residents claimed a group of workers, allegedly from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), went to Anyinam to begin an assessment exercise to connect them to the grid but the workers were chased out by the youth of the town.

Nana Tawiah claimed that the road to their farmlands had been blocked with the erection of protective walls by the company, thereby making many of the indigenes unemployed and hungry.

“The so-called compensation is nothing to write home about, as some of us received as low as GH¢100 to feed on for the rest of our lives,” he alleged.

AGA reaction

However, the Sustainability Manager of the AGA, Nana Ampofo Bekoe, explained to the Daily Graphic that the demand by the community to remain on the company’s electricity supply system, in the face of the company’s restructuring exercise, was not realistic.

He said there had been a long-standing engagement with the community leaders over the decision and described the action by the people as unfortunate.

Nana Bekoe denied the claim that those affected by the wall project had not been adequately compensated.

According to him, since the company went out of production, it had supported the people in diverse ways, including making facilities available to some fire victims in the area recently.

He, however, said the company would continue to engage with the community leaders to find a common ground on the issues.

On September 3, 2015, the AGA wrote to the leadership of the town that as a result of the decline in business, it would be unable to continue to honour its part of the agreement signed with the people over 40 years ago.

Conditions

In a reply, the Assembly Member for the area, Mr Collins Amponsah Appiah, said the people would agree with the decision on condition that either the entire community was resettled elsewhere or the company would create employment opportunities for the youth. 

Other conditions were registering the people onto the National Health Insurance Scheme, along with periodic free health screening exercises, and the payment of monthly stipends to unemployed residents of the town.