The Member of Parliament (MP) for Atiwa East, Mrs Abenaa Osei-Asare, has proposed the establishment of a permanent task force to protect the Birim River from pollution and siltation.
“While the government is seeking long-term measures to restore the river, what I propose could be done immediately is the establishment of a permanent force along the length of the river with the mandate to protect.”
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the MP said her proposal could involve the use of game wardens who would protect animal sanctuaries and forest wardens who would protect forest resources.
She said not only would such a task force stop illegal mining on the river, it would also ensure that even where the activities were legal, the people did not employ unapproved and unconventional methods that would ultimately cause harm to the river, its environs and by extension the dependent communities.
The River Birim is a major tributary of the River Pra, and the bed and basin of the Birim river is the country’s most important diamond producing area.
In Atiwa, it weaves through Ankaase, Mampong, Anyinam, Accra Village, Muoso, Akrofo, Asunafo, Akwaboso, Asamangma, Ekorso, Amonum, Akakom and Abomoso.
The river is the raw water source for four Ghana Urban Water Limited (GUWL) treatment plants in Akyem Abuakwa, including Anyinam, and it serves the rest of Atiwa.
Mrs Osei-Asare added, “unfortunately, there is excessive mining activity, much of it illegal, which is contributing to the heavy pollution and drying up of the river, therefore making it extremely difficult - indeed almost impossible - for the GUWL to serve the people of Ayinam and surrounding towns.”
The MP added that not only had the situation raised the cost of water treatment more than three fold, it had also ensured that treated water, if it was available at all, fell way below the World Health Organisation’s approved standard for drinking water.
She said for several months now, the people of Anyinam and surrounding towns had relied on other unconventional sources of water because the water treatment plant had been shut down due to the acidity and turbidity of the water from the River Birim.
Mrs Osei-Asare explained that the river, apart from being heavily polluted, was also drying up due to the operations of miners who had focused their activities on the river itself.
“I understand the GUWL and all the other stakeholders involved are taking steps to ensure that the treatment plant starts working again. The more crucial question is what the state and the people in the various communities are doing to protect the Birim.”
Mrs Osei-Asare said in 2010 the government promised to do all it could to ensure that we do not lose this vital resource and since then the Birim River Restoration Technical Team, under the guidance of the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amotia Ofori- Panin, and with the support of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, had been making strenuous efforts to provide a long-term solution to restore this water body.
She commended such efforts and expressed the hope that it would provide a road map for a permanent long-term solution.
Story: Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah