Over-reliance on mining firms for dev’t dangerous – Chief warns gov’t

Gyaasehene of the Apinto Divisional Council in the Western Region Dr Nana Adarkwa Bediako III has opined that the over-dependence of government on mining companies to spearhead the development needs of mining communities could spell doom for the country if not checked.

He observed that there appears to be a certain lethargic disposition on the part of government in terms of addressing the development needs of communities in mineral-endowed areas of the country.

“We are saying that there is no equivalent or similar work coming from the assembly. If you look around Tarkwa and its environs, you will find out that lots of the schools are either built by Goldfields or AngloGold Ashanti. When you talk about CHPS compound or health centres from Tebrebie, Awodua and all those places, you will realize that these projects are from the mining companies. The question is, what are the municipalities doing?” he questioned.

He noted: “The fact that the mining companies are there to help with the development of the communities does not necessarily stop the municipal assembly from undertaking its own role. We see what happens in other municipalities that they have no such companies. You see such municipalities building schools, teachers’ quarters and other projects.”

Dr Nana Adarkwa Bediako III was speaking in an interview with 3news.com after AngloGold Ahanti Iduapriem Mine had commissioned a teachers’ quarters for the Abompuniso Basic School and a Social Centre for the Timber Road Community valued at GH¢1.2 million.

The Gyaasehene insisted that it cannot happen that development of mining communities is left in the hands of mining companies when it is the responsibility of government.

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“They are building roads. You go to Awodua Junction to Awodua, it’s about 7 miles, it’s being built by Goldfields. Huniso road by Goldfields. You know the Damang-Tarkwa road built by Goldfields, bypasses built by Goldfields. I can say for sure that tarred roads built by Goldfields in the last four years are more that what has been built by government. And here we are today commissioning a project by AngloGold Ashanti. They built the basic school earlier and to help stop teacher absenteeism, they have come back to build a teachers’ quarters”.

“…and for me this is not good enough,” he said.

Dr Nana Adarkwa III stated that dedicated funds have been set up to address the development challenges of mining communities because of their peculiarity and wonders what such funds are used for.

“Apart from the municipal’s common fund, we have the Minerals Development Fund. We also know that 50 percent of royalties go to the municipalities. I mean, to what extent does that show in the lives of these community members, we don’t see it.”

He, therefore, entreated government not to leave the development needs of mining communities solely on mining companies but rather partner them.

“I sit on the Community Trust Fund of AGA and I know the number of projects that the communities bring to us. What the mines are able to do is about one tenth. Which means there are lots pf projects that are available for the municipality to do, if the municipality wants to do. The fact that the mines are doing it doesn’t stop them. If because the mines are doing their work and so things are being diverted then we need to bring them back. I believe that if a gold-mining company builds a school, it will be appropriate for the municipal to also build a teachers’ quarters attached, for example. We should not wait for the mining company to go all the way and come back again and build a teachers’ quarters. Tomorrow, we will be waiting for them to build a health centre here again. That is over dependence. What if the mining companies are not there, what do we do?” he inquired.

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He said: “Look we are relying on the mines for jobs, we are relaying on the mines for local contract and we are relying on the mines for infrastructure. That is too much.”

By Eric Yaw Adjei|3news.com|Ghana