Chiefs and people of South Tongu district in the Volta Region have expressed apprehension on the proposed onshore and offshore exploration of oil in the Keta Delta Block. According to them, if production eventually begins in the Keta Delta Block, it would affect the environment and invariably, impact on their livelihood.
They made these concerns known during an open forum at the Public Hearing on the Keta Delta Block on Wednesday, June 7.
Aside the dangers to their environment, there was the fear that they might not profit from the proceeds of the oil when production starts for which reason they wished government revoked the license given to an oil firm, Swiss African Oil Company for exploration.
Mama Ku-Agbi III, Queen mother of Fieve Agorkpo in her submission said it is likely that in case the production starts and issues arrive, solutions may take forever to come.
According to her, Lower Volta (Tonguland) had a precedent where during the construction of the Akosombo Dam decades ago, people lost their homes among other impacts yet promises made to her people then still remained unfulfilled.
Mr. Kodzo Agbenor-Efunam, Deputy Director, Oil and Gas at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in his response iintimated that the EPA is on the side of the people and will not condone any bad practices when production eventually commences. He said the Agency has regulations structured to conserve the environment and the lives of people and so will monitor strictly to enforce compliance by the Company.
He explained that EPA’s presence in the area for the Public Hearing was to take community members through processes involved in the oil and gas exploration and drilling and to listen to their concerns for consideration.
He disclosed that the hearing was to precede Swiss Oil Company’s seismic survey to assess if oil can be found for commercial production. He said, it is likely that after exploration, oil will not be found for production to begin in the first place, and assured that the public will be engaged at every stage of the process to ensure their concerns are resolved before any production.
Chairman of the independent panel on the Keta Delta Block, Prof. Sandow Mark Yidana, Department of Earth Science at the University of Ghana reassured that aside the monitoring body, EPA, there are other institutions and organisations that will focus their attention on the Keta Delta Block to ensure strict monitoring of activities there.
Earlier, Public Hearing was held at Ketu South and Keta municipalities where representatives from EPA, Ghana Petroleum Commission and the Forestry Commission took their turns to make presentations.
The 5-day Public Hearing continues at Ada-Foah, Ada East District on Thursday and ends at Keta ICT Centre next day with a meeting with the media, NGOs, civil society organisations, etc.
The Public Hearing which is in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Regulations 1991, LI 1652 (Regulation 17) to elicit concerns and expectations from citizens has become necessary after government in 2016 gave license to the oil firm to explore for oil in the Keta Delta Block.
By: Ewoenam Kpodo/voltaonlinegh.com