Some traditional landowners (Tindamas) in Talensi, a district in the Upper East Region, have announced their decision to boycott a meeting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to hold with the Talensi Traditional Council today (Saturday) over a mining-related development in the area.
The planned meeting is aimed at assessing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) a statement that has been compiled by a consultant for the Shaanxi Mineral Processing Company Ltd (Earl International Group [GH] Gold Ltd).
The traditional landowners from the eastern area (to whom the development is directly related as the host of the Chinese company) say they are staying away from the meeting because they are not under the Paramount Chief of Talensi (the Tongraan) in whose interest they say the meeting has been scheduled, among other reasons.
The controversial meeting, which has seen the EPA issue two different invitation letters to stakeholders, is expected to commence at 1:00 pm local time at the Gbeogo School for the Deaf in the Talensi capital, Tongo.
Below is a copy of the statement issued by the dissatisfied traditional landowners led by the Chairman of the Talensi Tindaama Association, Wagbil Bobazaa (the Tindong Tindana):
BOYCOTT OF TALENSI TRADITIONAL COUNCIL MEETING WITH EPA
We wish to register our displeasure and disappointment in the second letter floating on WhatsApp inviting landowners and Talensi Traditional Council for hearing of environmental impact assessment statement of Earl International at Gbeogo School of Deaf scheduled for Saturday, 8th May, 2021.
We have respect for the EPA, and appreciate the fulfilment of your mandate on stakeholder engagement but we are unable to attend this invitation for the following reasons:
1. Earl International or Shaanxi Gold mining Ltd, is located at a location surrounded by 22 community towns that are interconnected such that, only we the natives can tell the nature of our settlement.
These Community towns, according to proximity to the area in question, include Bu-Namoalug, Sawalig, Gbani Sheaga, Namoalug, Tindong, Gaare, Datoko, Gbankaare, Kolpeliga, Duusi, Kpatia, Kpaal,Gbie, Yamerig, Sok, Wuug, Digaare, Biung, Tola, Nung, Bapeela and Namoranteng.
The citizens of these community towns are very much related united and have always lived in harmony, working together and helping one another. These Communities together are called the Talensi Mining Community.
We want EPA and all other institutions and companies to know that, as of now, we constitute the Talensi Mining Community. We have Tindaanam and Nanam as our traditional rulers with complete and absolute sovereignty.
2. The issues leading to EPA desiring to engage the Traditional rulers of the Talensi Mining The community was when some landowners, Chiefs, Tindaanam, and youth leadership in the area petitioned EPA against Shaanxi acquiring 16 sqkm for large scale mining without consulting all landowners, chiefs and Tindaanam of the mining Community. EPA did well by attempting to engage the petitioners at Akayet Hotel in Bolga, and small scale miners in Accra.
However, the Akayet meeting was held mostly with people who never wrote a single petition because they are under the suppression of another chief who is not near nor exercise jurisdictional power over the area in question.
3. It was impressive reading an EPA letter convening traditional rulers of the mining Community for a meeting on Earl International environmental impact Assessment statement, however, we were saddened when that letter was withdrawn and rewritten inviting for Talensi Traditional Council meeting with EPA on same subject.
Many of us, the traditional rulers of the mining community, do not belong to this council and hence have nothing to derive from this meeting.
We are much aware of someone seriously working to mislead you the institutions and the companies into doing the wrong things as well as dividing and inciting certain Traditional leaders against one another.
The chairman of the Talensi Traditional Council does not exercise authority over us and our activities and so cannot determine our life and future. Environmental Impact Assessment of Earl International’s mining activities is about us and not someone else who considers himself as a final decision-maker.
We are not under Tongrana but on our own and cannot attend his meeting since he wrote an irrelevant counter-petition asking you to ignore our grievances.
It showed clearly that he did not care about the harmful effects on our lives by the operations of the company. We acknowledge the fact that, some of our brothers have subjected themselves to manipulation but that will not reduce the hazards of mining on our land and people.
For these reasons, we are suggesting to the EPA, that, you avoid the nominal meetings around and rather organise a proper stakeholder meeting involving Traditional rulers, landowners and youth of the mining Community who submitted petitions on pertinent issues pertaining to life protection and development.
In conclusion, we cannot attend the 8th May meeting because we anticipate more deception on the institutions, more confusion on people and land.
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