The reported violence and terror that a regime amigo, Daniel McKorley, is using to enforce a controversial 15-year monopoly that the Akufo-Addo government has given it over the Ada Songor salt lagoon, is happening even though his company does not have full permission to mine the salt, Whatsup News has gathered.
According to the Civil Society Organization (CSO), Third World Network (TWN), Electrochem, the salt company, has not been issued an environmental permit by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
TWN made this revelation on Monday in Accra, when it met with reporters.
An environmental permit is a sine qua non for every commercial resource mining activity, as it is by means of it that environmental impact concerns are addressed.
The process that leads to the issuance of such permits involves technical investigations and assessments by the EPA which would usually take into consideration the concerns of the people.
A salt engineer, Mr. Stephen Quaye, who was a participant in the program, pointed out for instance that it is not known how Electrochem intends to get rid of brine that will result from its salt mining activities.
Also, Mr. Quaye points out, it is not known how McDan and his Elecxtrochem intend to handle natural streams that feed the lagoon as these streams are going to be affected if Electrochem starts full-scale mining.
According to the salt engineer, Mr. McDan and his Electrochem should have waited for the EPA to complete its environmental impact assessment before moving in troops to the Songor Ada area to take over the site in a bid to commence mining.
The lack of environmental permits from the EPA is just one of the many controversial issues surrounding the Songor salt lagoon impasse between Electrochem and the local communities.
The communities, whose members were in attendance at the program reiterated their demand for a return to a Master Plan for the lagoon’s development that the Akufo-Addo government has set aside in order to favor McDan.
The original Master Plan for the Ada Songor lagoon salt had been put together by the Rawlings government. Events leading to the formulation of the Masterplan was that a salt mining company, Vacuum Salt, had been ceded 5000 hectares of the Songor lagoon to commercially mine salt.
According to reports, Vacuum Salt had not taken time to undertake important technical due diligence and had gone on to start development of the salt lagoon without creating crystallization area for the 750,000 metric tons that the 5000-hectare area yielded.
This led to the salt crystalizing in the lagoon and therefore indigenes started winning it. The company responded with violence and as a result, a pregnant woman was shot dead.
The government responded with an investigation by a commission (the Amissah Commission) which recommended that any commercial development of the salt lagoon should include the interest of the indigenes.
The government, based on these recommendations then put together a Master Plan for the development of the lagoon and backed it with PNDC Law 287. However, after this, the Master Plan remained unimplemented until the Kufuor government took over power in 2000.
The Kufuor government however set aside the Master Plan and then came up with a new plan altogether, the Land Use Plan which neglected the interest of the indigenes of the area.
The implementation of the Land Use plan had been problematic because the people of Ada had resisted it until the Kufuor government left office for the NDC government.
But immediately the Mahama government lost power and the Akufo-Addo government came in, the land use plan was reactivated and by it, McDan, a known bankroller of the political campaign of president Akufo-Addo, had his company, Electrochem, given the contract to mine the salt in the Songor.
The details of this contract have been particularly unsettling to the people. Unlike the past contract under which Vacuum Salt was given 5000 hectares out of 75,000 hectares, the Akufo-Addo government has given McDan a 15-year monopoly over the whole lagoon.