Inhabitants of Saaman-Juaso, a farming community near Osino in the Fanteakwa District of the Eastern Region, are currently living in morbid fear after a combined police/military team together with some security men from Solar Mining Company Limited, a private mining company in the area, stormed their houses at midnight and forcibly arrested eleven people.

As if this was not enough, the combined team had a free porn view while using torchlight to inspect the nakedness of the Assemblyman of the area, Hon. Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku, and his wife, Mrs. Christina Boateng Kyenkyenku.

Narrating the incident at a charged press conference in Koforidua over the weekend after a three- day sensitisation workshop on mining, peaceful elections for the media, Hon. Kyenkyenku lamented that in an unprovoked attack, the security personnel broke into houses in the area and arrested the eleven people and damaged properties worth thousands of Ghana cedis.

He noted that the situation has now led to shadow bouts, which according to him, if not nipped in the bud, could spark off a full blown war in the area.

Hon. Kyenkyenku said the rampant nature of brute methods meted out to them has led many vulnerable groups, including women and children of school-going age to seek refuge in safer communities out of Saaman.

Itemising the operations of Solar Mining, Hon. Kyenkyenku strongly accused the company of operating illegally without the necessary legal environmental documents from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission (MC) and Natural Resources Commission (NRC).

He rubbished claims by the company that it had been given the necessary environmental documents by the aforementioned State institutions to mine in the area.

“It is not true, because our checks at the offices of Environmental Protection Agency, Minerals Commission and Natural Resources Commission show that the company has at no time been licensed to operate,” he said, daring the company to submit themselves to public scrutiny.

The livid assemblyman alleged that the company since its operations in Saaman and its adjacent communities use mercury or other dangerous chemicals for its operations which pollute River Anoma, the only source of drinking water in the area.

“We the people in Saaman are farmers who usually engage in the production of food crop such as maize, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa, but over the years the company has destroyed our natural resources and vast arable land making standard of living nothing to write home about.”

He averred that since the company commenced its “irresponsible operations in December 2008, it has diverted River Akusu and Anoma and mined in it,” adding that the company put rusted narrow iron pipes in the two rivers, until 2010 when the Eastern Regional Director of EPA, Mr. Addo- Okyere, ordered the company to remove the rusted pipes.

According him, the company dug big man-holes along the two rivers which he said do not only serve as death traps to farmers but also serve as mosquito breeding grounds.

Contaminated water from the pits, he noted, discharge into the afore-mentioned river courses, thus polluting them and making them unsafe for drinking.

He noted that Mr. Okyere upon realising in the May 2010 that Solar Mining Company had no EPA permit and mining permit ordered for the shutdown of mining operations of the company but the company unfortunately still continued with its illegal operations.

He indicated that in a recent meeting organised by the Saaman chief and his elders including the opinion leaders, a consensus was reached that Solar Mining Company/Kibi Goldfields must evacuate their mining equipment from Saaman stressing that a letter to that effect is ready to be sent to the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Samuel Odalai Lamptey.

“In Saaman, cocoa farming is our business; we are able to finance our children’s education from the sales of cocoa and cash crops like oil palm. We are an agricultural community and we want to remain as farmers hence Saaman opposes surface gold alluvial mining even if Solar is issued with the necessary mining permit,” he added.

STORY: KORYEKPOR AWLESU FREEMAN, BACK FROM KOFORIDUA, E/R

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