Residents of Apegusu and Mpakadan all in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region are asking government to come to their aid over what they consider as a blatant disregard of their needs by contractors undertaking the Tema – Mpakadan Railway Project.
Residents of the two communities claim their buildings, sources of drinking water among others have been adversely affected following constant blasting of rocks there, yet the contractors have failed to address almost all their concerns including payment of compensation.
This was revealed during a media tour and a press conference at Mpakadan which was organized by some concerned indigenes and opinion leaders of both communities to shed light on the unfortunate hardships brought about by the construction of the 97-kilometre railway project.
According to the residents, the ongoing Tema to Mpakadan railway project is gradually becoming more of a curse to them than a blessing.
The leader of the concerned indigenes of Apegusu and Mpakadan Kingsley Darko, who led a media tour of the area and later addressed a press conference, bemoaned the blatant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the local people as the construction works there have made it nearly impossible for residents to access their farms.
Mr. Darko accused the subcontractor; ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited, whom he said had been contracted to undertake earthworks on portions of the project of blatantly disregarding the Minerals and Mining Regulations 2012, (LI 2177) which among other things stipulates specific protocols that must be followed regarding blasting.
“The big question is; have these laid down protocols by the Minerals and Mining Regulations been followed by these contractors? The answer is a big no! Indeed, on the 26th of November 2020, the first blast was done at Mpakadan, causing extensive damage to some buildings. After that, there have been a series of blasts. As of now, most of these buildings have not been repaired.”
Mr. Darko added that when the said company got wind of their press conference, they hurriedly wrote a letter of undertaking dated Monday, 23rd, 2020, informing the community of a blast that had already been carried out in February 2021.
This he said was a clear violation of the Minerals and Mining Regulation LI 2177, 2012, and that it was unacceptable!
“When they got wind of this press conference, they hurriedly wrote a letter of undertaking dated 20th August 2021 informing the community they would be conducting blasting from February to October 2021.”
Indeed, a tour of the communities revealed damaged roofs and deep cracks in buildings, which the locals said were the results of flying stones from the blast that landed on the building.”
Indeed, a number of houses in the communities have also been deserted by occupants for fear of their lives.
Some locals who spoke to Citi News complained about the constant blasting that goes on, usually without public announcements.
Some said the situation has not only polluted the water body they depend on, but has also denied them access to their farms.
Others said they are currently traumatized and would need post-blasting counseling to recover.
The Assembly Member for the Mpakadan Electoral Area, Oscar Lewu, who spoke to Citi News, explained that many residents have fled the area for fear of their lives.
He’s thus appealing for compensations to be paid to affected victims.
“We are living in fear because of the constant blasting. That is why you see all these houses empty. Many have left the community. Those of us who are still here are traumatized, so we want the government to compel the contractors to pay us compensations for our houses and livelihoods.”
The Apegusu Senior High School with a population of about 1,300 which lacks adequate infrastructure was also not spared as some of its buildings have suffered series of cracks resulting from the effects of blasting of rocks close to the school.
The Assistant Headmaster of the Apegusu Senior High School, Raphael Nang, narrated to Citi News how badly the blasting had affected some school buildings.
“On the 4th of August 2021 around 4:00 pm, we heard a loud blast just behind the girls’ dormitory and a new three-bedroom masters quarters. Soon after, the whole campus was engulfed in heavy dust and our water supply system was cut off. A student who was ironing her uniforms at the time fainted, and our buildings have developed deep cracks also as a result.”
The residents are thus appealing to the government and for that matter the Ministry of Railways Development to intervene and ensure that they get what is due them in compensation, as well as their concerns addressed for them to derive the full benefit that comes with the project.
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