E/R: Chaos as fishermen clash with ‘military’

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There was Chaos at Sedom, a fishing community in the Asuogyaman district of the Eastern region as ‘Armed Military’ personnel clashed with aggrieved fishermen in the area on Tuesday.

According to Ayitah Amos, chairman of the local fishermen about 20   warning shots were fired as the military numbering about 10 allegedly brutalized one of the fishermen and destroyed his mobile phone.

He said the fishermen remobilized daring to resist the military brutality.

Some of the fishermen told Starr News, the Asuogyaman NPP Constituency Chairman as well as NADMO officials in the District had arranged a meeting with them to address the impasse between them and a company undertaking underwater harvesting in the Volta Lake but before the meeting could start they were attacked by some Security men alleged to be military personnel guarding the company on the lake.

The Akosombo District Police Commander and some Police officers arrived at the scene while conveners of the meeting were about to arrive to help maintain calm.

Background

Fishermen in about 32 communities along the Volta lake in the Upper Manya Krobo District of the Eastern region were demanding compensation from Serengeti Company Limited and its partners, Deideso Holdings  harvesting  underwater tree stumps in the  Volta Lake for direct loss of income before they allow the company operate at peace with them.

The angry fishermen few months ago embarked on a ‘demonstration claiming the activities of the company will deplete fish stock in their operational area.

A stakeholders meeting held by the Eastern Regional Minister in Koforidua to resolve the impasse nearly turned chaotic as the fishermen rejected appeal by the Minister to allow the company work in peace.

The Volta Lake estimated to be 8,600 square-kilometre reservoir created as a result of a construction of the Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam in 1964, culminated in the submergence of large tracts of forest.

According to research, over 14 million cubic meters of rot-resistant hardwoods such as wawa, odum and ebony trees were submerged in the lake.

Timber resources in the Volta Lake was quantified at 2.8 billion dollars.

About 2% of the economic trees in the lake has been given out by Government of Ghana to Serengeti Company Limited and its partners, Deideso Holdings to harvest the underwater tree stumps in the lake which is entirety home to ninety per cent (90%) of Ghana’s inland fishery with about 80,000 fishermen depending on it for their livelihood therefore agitation over fear of negative impact through the direct loss of income.

Francis Kalitsi, Managing Partner and co-founder of Serengeti Company Limited, the company engaging in the underwater harvesting on the Volta Lake also stated that, most of the Chiefs and majority of fishermen approve the underwater tree harvesting project but only few of the “bamboo fishermen” are agitating.

Though Environmentalists prefer underwater harvesting to lumbering, there are also many environmental concerns that if the best method is not used aquatic life could be threatened.

Silt on the drowned logs could be distributed into the water while practice of yanking standing trees from lake beds can pollute the water with sediment, blocking the light needed by aquatic plants disturbing their habitats.

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