Residents along Lake Bosomtwe in the Ashanti Region are demanding answers for what they say is the continuous drop in water volume of the biggest natural lake in West Africa.
There are concerns that about 100 meters of the area covered by water in the past is now dry land.
Traditional authorities at Atafram, one of 24 communities in the catchment area are calling for steps to halt the desertification.
Chief of Atafram, Nana Gyaare Ababio’s concerns follow the Regional Security Council’s warning of dire consequences if encroachment of the lake by illegal miners is not stopped.
Lake Bosomtwe, believed to be 6 miles long situated within an ancient meteorite impact crater.
It is the source of livelihood for over twenty communities scattered around its banks where the main occupation is fishing.
Logging and chain saw operations within the forest cover and now illegal mining, are contributing to serious degradation.
The Bosomtwe District Security Committee has mounted to repeated operation to clamp down on offenders, in a bid to protect the precious natural resource.
Brodekwano, Beposo and Konkoma, among other communities, are worst affected.
Sounds of excavators which cause extensive damage to cocoa farms, virgin land and water sources ramble on.
The pollution of River Bone, the only source of drinking water for residents has forced the Bosomtwe Assembly to provide boreholes to affected communities.
A member of District Taskforce who also doubles as District Coordinator for National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), John Rafael Anane suspects some of the illegal miners could be operating in their hideouts at the banks of the lake.
“They have destroyed cocoa farms and plantain farms. The only source of drinking water is this River called Bone [which] the community use as their source of drinking water but they can’t get water to use. The assembly has provided them with one borehole and that is what they are using now”. Worried Mr. Anane explained.
In their bid to outwit security officials, some illegal miners collect sand around the lake in sacks which they wash for gold.
The District Security Council was forced to move swiftly to prevent illegal miners who pitched camp right on the banks of the lake at Atafram.
The miners had succeeded in laying pipes into the lake to enable them wash soil particles for gold.
Deep pits created by illegal miners in a cocoa farm at the banks of Lake Bosomtwe greet the visitor.
The forest reserve at Beposo, a few kilometers from the lake is now the target of the miners, and there are fears some may be closer to the lake.
“Especially at Beposo, they are in the forest; they are still doing the mining there. Because of the chemicals they are using, if it gets into the lake, it would pollute the lake; and then it will kill the fish in the lake and that would affect the communities surrounding the lake because, their main work is fishing”. Mr. Anane explained
The Bosomtwe Assembly says every effort would be made to flush-out all the miners from the area.
Chief Executive, Veronica Antwi-Adjei says ongoing illegal mining activities comes with a cost on the purse of the assembly as extra resources are mobilized to provide affected communities with portable drinking water.
“If we allow them to stay, our money is going to be spent unnecessarily whilst others are taken their share from the galamsey. We won’t allow that even if they have paper (permit) from the Mineral Commission; we don’t care about it. For the lake, we have to protect it”. Mad Antwi-Adjei warned.
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