Five years of resettlement; Bui residents tell their story

GNA
Feature by Dennis Peprah
 

Bui, (B/A), Sept. 5,
GNA – Barely five years ago the Bui Power Authority (BPA), managers of the Bui
hydro-electric dam in the Banda District of Brong-Ahafo Region resettled a
total population of 1,216 fisher folks.

They live at the
shoulders of the 400 megawatts power generation dam.

In all seven
villages including the Bui Camp, residence for the personnel of the Game and
Wildlife that supervise the Bui National Park were affected.

This was due to the
inundation of about 444 km2 of land by the dam’s reservoir at its full supply
level.

Initially, the local
fishermen and farmers, and their families, who occupied the shoulders of the
Black Volta River, at the Bui gorge, were reluctant to vacate the area for the
construction of the national asset.

Residents in the two
resettlement townships namely Bongase in Brong-Ahafo Region and Jama in
Northern Region attested that their living conditions have witnessed
significant improvement.

“Hardly did I
think and learnt our relocation would create an opportunity for improved access
to public infrastructure,” a fisherman stated.

According to some of
them, they never dreamt that their resettlement to the host communities would
create opportunity for them to access modern social infrastructure and
facilities such as health care and education, electricity, potable water, major
roads, malls and modern latrines.

During a visit to
the area, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) sighted communal facilities such as
schools, community centres, boreholes as well as playing grounds, clinic and
health centre at the resettlement townships near Bongase and in Jama.

Access roads and
drainage systems had also been completed in the resettlement areas.

The sanitation in
the area has also improved as residents who had to dig the ground, or attend
nature’s call at bushes were now using biofil digester toilets.

Technology has also
advanced in the townships as digital satellite dishes that enable residents to
access various television channels were seen erected on the roof of a number of
households.

With the
establishment of a Community Health-based Planning Services (CHPS) compound
each at the two resettlement townships, the residents have easy access to
improved healthcare delivery.

Speaking to the GNA
during the visit, the locals indicated that though they have new challenges,
their living conditions are better in their new settlements.

Residents, however
expressed concern that the Bui CHPS compound and the Jama Health Centre is
being overwhelmed by the rapid population growth in the area.

The population
growth could be attributed to the economic boom within the area with respect to
the fishing industry.

The construction of
the Bui Dam created a reservoir, which is now the source of the economic boom
in the environs of the dam.

There were a handful
of fisher folks among the 1,216 resettled people before the damming of the
Black Volta River.

Their economic
activities impacted only a few people apart from their families.

However with the
creation of the Bui reservoir economic activities have increased with more than
7000 traders involved.

The main fishing
economic activity trend hitherto was for fishermen to come back with their
harvest to sell to fish mongers who sell them either fresh or smoked to
customers.

With the current
fishing boom being experienced at the Bui area, the economic activities
transcends fisher folks only, new business opportunities have emerged.

These include
transportation services, battery charging centres, food vendors, cloth sellers,
petty trading, drinking spots, telecom airtime, mechanics, carpenters and even
a rural bank and so many other commercial activities.

The fish mongers
told the GNA in an interview that their business activities are flourishing but
to the local fishermen complained that the influx of other colleagues to the
communities is making fishing competitive.

Another challenge
was the regular shortages of premix fuel, a situation which according to them
was affecting their businesses.

The Chief of Jama,
Nana Kojo Pambo II, noted that the Bui dam has enhanced the livelihood of the
local people because of the upsurge in business activities.

He expressed the
fear that because of the influx of fishermen to the area, the fish population
in the reservoir would soon deplete.

The commercial
activities on the banks of the reservoir is however, said to have driven the
fishes far into the reservoir where fishermen are unable to reach easily due to
inadequate premix fuel. A moratorium is also placed on living on islands within
the reservoir.

The BPA External and
Community Relations Manager, Mr Wumbilla Salifu told the GNA the Authority
appreciated the cooperation from the resettlement communities around the dam
and assured the residents of its commitment to ensure improvement of their
socio-economic well-being.

Mr Wumbila added
that the Authority would ensure that basic social amenities are provided to
make life worth living for the residents.

He however expressed
worry about the failure of some households at the Dokokyina village, which is
few kilometres away to the dam site to relocate to the resettlement camp.

GNA

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