Members of the Keta Municipal Vegetable Farmers and Marketers Association have staged a protest against the exploration of crude oil and salt mining in the Keta Basin in the Volta Region.
The demonstrators, who included some residents of Anloga, appealed to the government to rescind its decision to use the Keta Basin for crude oil extraction and rather maintain it for agricultural purposes
According to them, the basin with its numerous water resources, was best for agricultural activities which over the years, had been the main source of livelihood for the people within the area.
The demonstrators held placards with inscriptions such as ‘Government, abrogate this evil agreement,’ ‘Keta Basin was designed by God for shrimp farming,’ ‘We will resist any oil exploration,’ and ‘No Niger Delta militancy on Anlo land.’
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The oil exploration exercise, they claimed, would be detrimental to the environment and inhabitants in the catchment area because about 600,000 people were likely to be displaced and also lose their sources of livelihood.
In a three-page petition, the leader of the group, Mr Roland Tudzi, said the Keta Lagoon, which was a source of livelihood for many fishermen, could be polluted through the exploration activities.
“Mr President, it is very sad that the technocrats in the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Minerals and Natural Resources and Energy together with their agencies, such as the EPA, the Water Commission, have failed to advise past governments on sustainable development potential of the Keta Basin,’’ he said.
According to Mr Tudzi, basic science suggests that if a water body is contaminated by oil, all aquatic life will be extinct as a result of the deprivation of oxygen.
The chemicals used in the drilling operations and oil spillages, he said, would pollute both surface and underground waters.
‘Indeed, if water is life as the adage goes, then the people of the Keta Basin will resist any act that will jeopardise the survival of the people at the expense of the foreseeable water contamination and degradation of the basin,’ Mr Tudzi added.
The Keta Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Seth Yormewu, who received the petition on behalf of the President, assured the protesters that their petition would be rightly delivered.
The Keta Basin, which is believed to have some hydrocarbon potential, was awarded to the Swiss African Oil Company, a subsidiary of the Swiss African Petroleum Ag and PET Volta Investments, to prospect for ‘black gold’ in the southern part of the Volta Region.
The exploration agreement between the multinational firm and the state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), was ratified by Parliament in 2016, granting the Swiss African Oil Company the first onshore oil exploration licence in the country.