The people of Mpakadan and Apeguso in the Asuogyaman district in the Eastern Region have appealed to the Ministry of Railways Development and the government to, as a matter of urgency, assuage the suffering they are going through as a result of the construction of the railway line from Tema to Mpakadan.
The two communities maintained that although they were in favour of the railway project, which would in the end boost their economic activities, it should not deny them of their livelihood.
At a press conference organised by the two communities last Monday at Mpakadan, the Leader, Mr Kingsley Darko conveyed the people’s complaints about the negative effects of the activities of some contractors engaged on the project and their gross disregard of their concerns.
“We want to place on record that we are not ignorant of the socio-economic benefits of the railway and for that matter the ports to the people of Akwamu in particular and Ghana at large, for which reason we do not object to the construction and would not do anything to derail the completion of the project,” he said.
Effects of blasting
Mr Darko said per the Minerals and Mining (explosive) Regulation 2012, LI 2177, there were general rules and regulations including permit and licence for explosives, monitoring and environmental limits, application and general administration among others.
He said a person who contravened any of these regulations for which sanctions were provided committed an offence and was liable to a fine of not less than 50 penalty units and not more than 180 penalty units or term of imprisonment of not less than three months and not more than six months.
One penalty unit is equivalent to GH¢12.
He said as a result of the construction of a single gauge railway line from Tema to Mpakadan, ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited, the sub-contractor of AFCON Infrastructure Limited, was supposed to carry out series of blasting.
Mr Darko said since November 26, 2020 when the first blast and subsequent ones were done at Mpakadan, which caused extensive damage to some properties, especially buildings, none of the destroyed properties had been repaired or affected members compensated.
According to the two communities, the construction of the railway had made it virtually impossible for the Apeguso community to access their clinic for their health care needs and also go to their farms.
“Of what benefit is the clinic if we cannot use it? Do we need to die of hunger as a result of our inability to access our farms all because of the assertion that the construction of the railway line is going to benefit the larger community?” they queried.
They cited a big pit that had been left uncovered after the company extracted gravel for the railway construction that was posing danger to the teachers’ bungalows as another dangerous situation the Apeguso Senior High School.
Mr Darko alleged that when ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited got wind of the press conference, they hurriedly wrote a letter of undertaking dated August 20, 2021 informing the community that they would be doing blasting from February to October 2021.
However, when the Daily Graphic contacted the Director of ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited, the sub-contractor of AFCON, the railway construction firm, Mr Dheeraj Choudhary said the issue was before the Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA) to handle in order to find a lasting solution to the complaints of the people at Mpakadan and Apeguso.
That, notwithstanding, the people resolved that all the affected persons in the two communities must be compensated in accordance with the minerals and mining regulation. They also called for all safety and security measures to be put in place for the subsequent blasts in accordance with the regulation.
They said in addition, persons affected by the blast must be evacuated from the area and properly housed until their affected structures were permanently rehabilitated.
“There should be post trauma counselling for affected persons and the community in general. Furthermore, there must be corporate social responsibility for the affected communities. Access roads must also be constructed to enable the communities have access to their farms,” they said.
Many community members, including a 65-year-old woman, Madam Cecilia Amegazo, 57-year-old, James Nyuedo and 59-year-old Mary, Mahu, who spoke to the Daily Graphic at Mpakadan on inspection of the affected people in the two communities, lamented their predicament and pleaded with the government to step in to alleviate their plight.