Atuabo Gas Plant
image source: accrareport.com

By: Vincent Baffour-Acheampong

The Chief of Anokyi, a community in the Ellembelle District of the Western Region, says they would not hesitate to invoke their gods to cease the flow of gas, from the Jubilee fields to the Ghana Gas Company (GGC), should Ghana gas continue to ignore the concerns of the surrounding communities.

Ghana Gas
A bird’s eye view of the Ghana Gas Project
This threat, the chief revealed, is as a result of the gas company?s continuous neglect of the surrounding communities? concerns on issues of their livelihoods being affected by activities of the gas company.
According to Nana Avo Blay V, since the inception of Ghana Gas, the company?s activities have negatively impacted the lives of the residents of the communities yet very little had been done by Ghana Gas to find a remedy to their concerns.

?For almost six months, fishermen have grounded all their boats and do not go for fishing. The perception you have been hearing that these people are helping us and we are making progress is not true. They just lie that Anokyi, Atuabo and others are being catered for. It is not true. Ghana Gas has really caused us great damage?.
?We were the same people who appeased the gods before they could progress with work at their current site. During that time when there were some impediments in their way, they came begging us for help but after they finished and commenced operations, they have totally sidelined us as though we do not matter. I want them to know that since we are the same people who appeased the gods to pave way for them to work, we can also decide to do what we can to ensure that the gas will also not flow?, Nana Avo Blay cautioned.

On a field trip, organized by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalist (IFEJ) in collaboration with GIZ, to frontline communities in the Western Region, residents of Anokyi, complained bitterly about the total neglect of the community by Ghana Gas despite the adverse effects their activities have had on the community since its inception.
They also bemoaned the various promises made to them by government and management of Ghana Gas prior to the construction of the Gas Plant; promises, they say, are yet to see the light of day.
Displacement and Compensation

According to residents of Anokye, no prior notice was given before the land was cleared for the project, and no proper negotiations were carried out concerning compensation. They bemoaned the compensations given for their displacements as they say proper valuations of their crops and other properties were not factored into the compensations.

?We did not sell the land but willingly gave the land to them (Ghana Gas) for the construction of the site. Can you believe that when the Chinese came with their equipment to commence work on the land, we the chiefs were not even informed? It was one Sunday that they began uprooting crops and trees and demolishing other properties and when we inquired, they told us to inform the farm owners to come and uproot their crops because they were commencing the construction.

Regarding compensation, they said they were going to compensate us for the crops destroyed. Ask yourself, how much should be charged for a coconut tree that has several fruits on it. Yet they just signed cheques for amounts they deemed fit. Even the cheques that they issued did not clear at the banks and as such they (Ghana Gas) came and offered cash to residents and took back their cheques. Is that how to treat people?? Nana Avo Blay V queried.

POLLUTION
The residents have also decried the adverse effects that the activities of Ghana Gas has had on their environments and themselves. According to them, since the commencement of the activities of Ghana Gas, noise pollution and excessive heat has made their living conditions unbearable with residents unable to sleep comfortably in their rooms.

?On the issue of noise and heat, you can visit my palace around 12 or 1 am and you will find me, a chief, sleeping outside due to excessive heat as a result of the activities of Ghana Gas?, he said.

Employment
According to the residents of Anokyi, though Ghana Gas, in its early days of work, had registered many of them for various jobs at the company, none of them had been called by the Gas Company.
Residents queried why qualified drivers who lived in Anokye had been sidelined when the company was employing drivers. According to the chief, the issue of employment had been politicized thereby making it difficult for residents of Anokye to be employed.

?They said they were employing drivers yet none of the experienced drivers of this village has been employed by Ghana Gas. I can see they are politicizing employment in the company. If you do not know any big man you will not be employed there?, the chief opined.

Kwadwo Kyei Yamoah, programs Manager of Friends of the Nation, a non-profit non-governmental organization involved in socio-environmental advocacy, has called for the mitigation of issues raised by the surrounding communities on the environmental impact of the activities of Ghana Gas Company.

Background
Upon the discovery of oil and gas in the Jubilee Fields in 2007, Ghana Gas was incorporated as a limited liability company in July 2011 with the responsibility to build, own and operate infrastructure required for the gathering, processing, transporting and marketing of natural gas resources in the country.

The Offshore Pipeline, the Onshore Pipeline, the Gas Processing Plant, the NGLs Export System, and the Office Complex are collectively the ?Project? and are also sometimes referred to collectively as the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project or the Ghana Early Phase Gas Infrastructure Development Project.

The company operates on a business model which primarily obtains revenue through processing, transportation, the sale of Natural Gas and NGLs.

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