Africa and Sub-Saharan African Environmental IssuesEnvironmental Issues

Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources suspends sand winning and farming activities along river Densu

By Samuel Nyigmabo

The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah has directed for all sand-winning activities along the Weija dam on the Densu river to be suspended to allow for the Ghana water company to treat the water to solve the deficits within the region.

In recent weeks, some parts of the Greater Accra region have been grappling with erratic water supply due to water rationing by the Ghana water company Limited (GWCL). The situation, GWCL has attributed to the activities of illegal mining and sand winning along major rivers within the country. The company has bemoaned that the cost of treatment of water has become very expensive due to the pollution caused by illegal miners and sand winners.

As part of a working day tour of some treatment plants within the Greater Accra region, the minister visited the Nsawam water treatment station and noted that farming along banks of river Donsu with disregard to the 100 meters buffer is causing high turbidity of the water which translates into the high cost of treatment by GWCL. She further cautioned farmers to respect the 100 meters buffer and stay away from the river to allow the Forestry Commission and ministry to plant trees to protect the water even in the dry seasons.

“We had reports that people had farmed in the buffer zone. The policy is that every water body or river should be given a 100 meters buffer on both sides so that we grow trees to give shade to the river or water body. It’s not for people to do farming and still pick the scarce water to water their farms. It’s not allowed. Every farmer should be 100 meters off”, She said.

At the Weija water treatment plant, the minister was overwhelmed by the encroachment of the buffer zone by illegal sand winners who had excavators tipper trucks winning sand, and others on construction activities.

One of the encroachers who identified himself as a private land developer claimed he had secured permission from the chiefs and district assembly to construct a road through the buffer area to his estates and has served GWCL a copy of the permission.

Meanwhile, the managing director of GWCL, Dr. Clifford Braimah who was at the scene denied the knowledge of permission arguing that the district assembly and chiefs don’t construct roads rather it is the duty of the Roads and Highways ministry.

Addressing the media after the tour, the minister said she has directed the sand Winners and truck drivers to report to her office to further investigations into circumstances regarding their permit to operate in the buffer of the dam.

The erratic water supply within the Greater Accra region is threatening economic activities and the Weija dam which supplies water to over 1.5 million residents within the region is struggling to meet up with demand.

The minister, however, remarked that the situation is improving in the last couple of days due to recent rains.

“We are happy to note that by God’s grace it has rained so it’s moved to 2.4 which is very good for our machines to work with”, she hinted.

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