By Edzorna Francis Mensah
Fiaga of Somé and the President Somé Traditional Council in Agbozume of the Ketu South Municipality, Torgbui Adamah III has refuted the claims by the Government that Seven Seas Company Limited has no restricted Mining Lease (salt) in the Adafienu Area.
According to Torgbuiga a letter from the Minister of Lands and Natural Resource approving recommendations on the company’s application letter dated 11th January 202, from the Minerals Commission granting the concession to the company, and “other documents indicated to us that the company was rightfully granted a new concession, hence our acceptance of the compensation and consequently, agreeing with the company” to do responsible mining.
Before the coming of the company, there were two main economic activities undertaken in the lagoon. These are Fishing and Sait Winning. With the presence of the company, it appeared local folks had to sacrifice the salt-winning aspect before “we could co-exist with the company so it became necessary to have an agreement to regulate this new relationship with the company. It was therefore agreed that the company re-design its salt ponds to allow two concessions Agavedzi & Blekusu and Adafienu only to serve as water storage ponds and nothing else and with Adina Concession as Pre-crystallizers and salt crystallizers”.
“We further agreed with the company to allow the communities to continue fishing in the ponds under the supervision of the community leadership should they start pumping seawater into the lagoon”, Togbui Adamah added.
Unpacking the story, Torgbui Adamah mentioned that, their side of the Lagoon was split and allocated to a salt mining company as far back as the early 1950s but unfortunately, these companies could not develop the lagoon until 2011 when Kensington Industries Ltd which now known as Seven Seas Salt Ltd appeared on the scene and took over the Adina and Agavedzi & Blekusu Concessions from the West Africa Goldfields Company.
He further submitted that, in 2011 his predecessor, Torgbi Hor Il, had information that the Lagoon had been allocated to an investor for development into a modern salt works. His predecessor tried his best to foster a peaceful co-existence between our communities and the company but as with every society, it takes time for everyone to accept change. This mistrust existed between the communities and the company until he was enstooled as the Paramount Chief in 2015,-“in my enstoolment as the Paramount Chief and Leader of the Traditional Area, my priority was to build a bridge between the company and my communities and to achieve this, I needed to identify the causes of the mistrust which often results into riots”.
He said, The Somé Traditional Council has taken judicial notice of the unfortunate drowning incident which occurred on 17th September 2022 but The Council did not come out with any statements or expression of concerns on the incident because even though Seven Seas Salt Company Ltd operates within the jurisdiction of Somé, that portion of the Adafienu Concession falls under the jurisdiction of Aflao Traditional Council Area hence their decision to allow the Aflao Traditional Council to deal with it.
He maintained that “Following this unfortunate incident of drowning, the Blekusu to Denu lagoon or Adina, Agavedzi—Blekusu and Adafienu Concession issue has become the topic of discussion across all the media outlets including on social media, since September 2022. The Somé Traditional Council has been monitoring the discussions and the trading of insults from some of the local media outlets during their call-in sessions directed at my person and that of the generality of Some for that matter”.
Three separate documents (attached below) submitted to the media at the news conference addressed by Chiefs and elders of the Somé at the forecourt of his Palace on Monday, September 2023 seemed to contradict the position taken by the sector Minister when he appeared before Parliament some few weeks ago to respond to a question asked by MP for Keta lease status and related matters.
The Chief who deemed the media briefing as a necessity to engage particular the local media houses and also to explain certain issues to his subjects used the occasion to also respond to what he called “some falsehood being intentionally perpetrated in an attempt to damage my image as the Fiaga of Somé and also incite the general public against me and especially my fellow Some citizens”.
An earlier story published by GBC suggested that the said Company has not leased to mine salts in some areas as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is said to have rejected two applications submitted by Seven Seas Salt Limited over non-compliance with mining laws in Ghana.
Minister said The Company put in two different applications for two additional restricted mining Cases; one in respect of an area measuring approximately four thousand, two hundred and fifty-six point six eight acres (4,256.68 acres) and the other measuring approximately one thousand, three hundred and eighteen point four two six acres (1,318.426 acres) to mine but the two applications were thrown out.
According to the sector Minister, the Minerals Commission has no contract with Kensington Industries Limited, which is now called Seven Seas Salt Limited to go beyond the existing area.