The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah has called on residents living around the intake point of the Oda Water Treatment Plant and the Birim River in the Eastern Region to desist from illegal mining to avoid polluting the river.
The minister who was obviously not happy about the way the River instead of remaining colourless had turned brownish and muddy, warned that “If we do not stop protecting our water bodies posterity would judge us.”
She made the call during an official tour of the intake point of the Water treatment plant at Oda on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. Mrs Dapaah was accompanied by some officials from the ministry and the Ghana Water Company Limited(GWCL). She interacted with traders at the Oda market and commercial drivers.
Minister Abena Dapaah explaining a point
The Birim River is one of the main tributaries of the Pra River in Ghana and the country's most important diamond-producing area, flowing through most of the width of the Eastern Region. The river has been degraded as a result of illegal mining activities.
Mrs Dapaah said that illegal mining along the banks of the river caused erosion and at times the soil in the mined area caved into the river thereby silting it.
She explained that it was necessary for residents to ensure that any human activity carried out must be done 100 meters away from the river but currently, she noted it’s about 50 meters away stressing that it was not the best.
“We are here to do advocacy against illegal mining because the President has declared war against galamsey and so we are entreating all to join the fight against illegal mining" she stated.
She explained that “the more pollution you introduce into the river the more chemicals we will need to make it colourless and the more consumers have to pay for clean or potable water".
“If we don't stop galamsey there won't be any good water to treat. Therefore the system will cease functioning and there will be no water for the people in the catchment area" Mrs Dapaah warned.
She revealed that the GWCL had started using its Internally Generated Funds(IGF) to extend pipelines to the surrounding towns.
“With this happening the project will stall and so it is a very serious problem we are facing; we know that if we decide to desist from illegal mining we can continue with the project" the minister indicated.
She appealed to traders, commercial drivers, food vendors, and the general public to support the crusade against illegal mining by becoming good ambassadors of spreading the message about the importance of protecting water bodies.
The minister further suggested to the Community Water and Sanitation Agency(CWSA) to look for funds to help plant more trees around the river to protect it.