The Somé Traditional Council has appealed to President Nana Akufo Addo to halt the reallocation of the salt mining concession at Adafienu in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta region to Elite Minerals Ghana Limited and Planet One Natural Resources Ghana Limited.
In a special letter of appeal to the president through the Volta regional Minister, Archibald Letsa, Paramount Chief and President of the Somé Traditional Council, Torgbiga Adamah III, called on the head of state to intervene in the issue which is becoming a security threat within the Traditional Area.
“Your excellency, the issue at stake touches on the socio-economic well-being of my area and the entire Ketu South Municipality – Somé Traditional Area has a vast wetland suitable for fishing and salt winning by the local people until it was leased to West Africa Gold Field Company for salt mining in the 90s.
Unfortunately, the company could not develop the land, leading to it’s allocation to Kensington Industries Ltd, now Seven Seas Salt Company Ltd in 2011 and to the delight of the Traditional Authority, the land was developed into a modern salt works with a sophisticated salt refinery which now employs over one thousand locals and other Ghanaians,” the letter stated.
The letter noted that in 2017, when the current government took over the administration of the country, it was the vision of the President to industrialize the economy in order to scale up export and the policy to that effect was setting up a Bauxite Authority to drive the Aluminum Industry.
“To achieve this, the country needed to step up it’s salt production – I vividly recollect many visits undertaken by the then CEO of the Minerals Commission, Mr Addai Bediako-Sekyere to Ketu South to impress upon Seven Seas Company which at the time had the capacity to expand its operations so as to position the country to be self sufficient in salt production, not only for domestic consumption and export, but for industrial purposes,” Torgbiga Adamah said.
It said for Seven Seas to achieve this height, the company had positioned itself to undertake the construction of a salt exporting jetty and setting up of a Caustic Soda Plant; a product that is required for the processing of Bauxite into Aluminum and other related products.
“The above vision propelled the immediate past CEO of the Minerals Commission to encourage Seven Seas Salt Company to apply for additional land space for expansion in line with the objective of putting up the salt export jetty and the caustic Soda Plant – The company then approached me and my family and the Right of Entry was granted to it.
After survey and other preliminary works, the company formally applied for the land and a Grant Letter was issued to it in January 2011, after which Surface Rights Compensation was accordingly paid to the land owners.
Thereafter, the company was compelled to protect the boundary of the concession as there were many threats of trespasses by some individuals and this was known to the Minerals Commission,” the Paramount Chief indicated.
The letter said the people of the enclave depended largely on the lagoon for fishing and having the understanding that, should that side of the concession, being the remaining lagoon be used also for salt mining, the people would be left with nowhere to fish especially when the sea is locked during the annual closed season.
“To avoid the reaction of my people, I engaged the company and pleaded with it’s management to allow two of it’s concessions to be used exclusively for sea water circulation – This arrangement was to protect the interest of my people so that they could retain their fishing occupation and also co-exist with the company,” the letter read.
It added: “The greatest shock we had as a people is the decision of the Minister of lands and Natural Resources to reallocate this same land to two separate companies, Elite Minerals and Planet One Natural Resources for salt mining related activities – We strongly object to this latest arrangement as it is geared towards preventing my people from fishing and myself and my people will do everything within our rights as citizens to resist this attempt,” the letter said.
The letter further indicated that it took the vigilance and diligence of the Traditional Authority to detect that it is the same Adafienu Concession which is being reallocated to the two new companies under different names.
It further observed that this latest move by the sector Minister, is a slap in the face of the President”s directive to the effect that henceforth, the consent of allodial owners of all natural resources which is the Traditional Authority in any particular jurisdiction must out of necessity be sought by all interested parties, including the Minerals Commission, before the grant of any Rights of Entry into such lands adding that the move by the sector Minister had the potential of breaching the peace and security of the Somé Traditional Area and the larger Ketu South Municipality.
The letter finally appealed to the President to prevail upon the Minister to resolve whatever differences he might have with Seven Seas Salt Company Ltd, in order to ensure lasting peace within the Ketu South Municipality and to forestall a repeat of the incident which took place at Ada Songor going forward.