The residents of Sefwi-Anhwiaso a farming community in the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai Municipality of the Western North Region have demonstrated against illegal mining activities in the Sefwi -Anhwiaso East Forest Reserve.
Illegal miners have invaded the Anhwiaso East Forest Reserve which shares boundaries with Sefwi-Anhwiaso, Ntakamu, Sefwi-Manse and it surrounding communities to mine gold without any proper documentation.
The demonstrators, numbering more than a hundred, clad in red and black, holding placards marched through the principle streets of the town to register their displeasure about the lukewarm attitude of the Forestry Commission, Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Municipal Security Council and Government towards the illegal mining activities in the forest reserve.
Some of the placards had inscriptions such as, “Nana Addo, take action now”, “Chinese are destroying our forest reserve!, Operation Van Guard, where are you?, Forestry Commission, where you?, No illegal Mining” “Farmers need land for farms, Chiefs arise and stop the illegal mining in the forest”.
Mr Frank Ackah Nelson, the Assemblymember for Sefwi-Anhwiaso electoral area, who addressed the media later, expressed concern about the unlawful activities of the Chinese illegal miners in the Forest Reserve.
According to him, they have been reporting the illegal mining activities issues to those who matter in the fight against illegal mining, but no action has been taken against the Chinese.
Mr Ackah explained that the demonstration was to drum home their displeasure, adding “as cocoa farmers we can’t sit aloof for our lands meant for farming activities to be used by foreigners”.
He alleged that the Chinese who were usually arrested are later set free and gave a one-week ultimatum to the authorities to get all the excavators out of the forest, else they would also invade the forest reserve.
“Failure to comply with this directive will compel the farmers in the electoral area to share the rest of the forest reserve for their cocoa farming and we shall allow the chainsaw operators to also have their way into the forest and cut down the trees in the forest for sawmill to enable them make a living”.
Mr Nelson also called on the Forestry Commission to release all seized chainsaws to their owners to avert any disturbances.
The resident, therefore through their Assembly member appealed to the Municipal Chief Executive for Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai, Mr Alfred Amoah, the Member of Parliament for the area, who is also the Western North Regional Minister, Mr Kingsely Aboagye-Gyedu and the Paramount Chief of Sefwi Anhwiaso Traditional Area who doubles as the President of the National House of Chief, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to come to the aid of Sefwi -Anhwiaso East forest reserve in the Sefwi Anhwiaso Electoral of Bibiani Municipality of the Western North Region.