General News of Thursday, 16 June 2016
Commercial quarry operators have expressed worry over the encroachment on quarry concessions by estate developers.
They said the development tended to endanger the lives of residents and was also affecting their business.
There has been growing public concern over the citing of quarries close to developing residential communities in recent times, but quarry operators contend that property owners are to blame for flouting the minerals and mining regulations which stipulate that properties must be cited 500 metres from quarry concessions.
The issue came up at a stakeholders’ meeting on encroachment on quarry sites by new settlements in Accra last Tuesday.
Present at the meeting, organised by the Commercial Quarry Operators Association and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, were traditional leaders, representatives of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Minerals Commission, the police, sand winners, stone quarry operators, among others.
On December 24, 2015, there was a heavy dynamite explosion at a quarry site at Paebo in the Nsawam-Adoagyiri municipality in the Eastern Region, killing one person and injuring 10 others.
Following the explosion, about 2,000 residents were displaced because it damaged houses around and beyond the quarry.
On August 18, 2015, a one-year-old boy, who was hit by particles from the blasting at a quarry site owned by Construction Pioneers (CP) at Joma, a suburb of Ablekuma in Accra, died instantly, while his mother and another passerby sustained injuries.
Opening the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Kwabena Mintah Akando, reiterated the fact that encroachment had led to the unnecessary endangering of lives and, in some cases, the loss of lives.
That development, he said, was brewing tension between the quarrying companies and some communities, for which reason the government had had to intervene in some cases.
Mr. Akando used the opportunity to urge the Commercial Quarry Operators Association to create public awareness of the importance of the quarry industry to the national economy.
Sand and quarry products, he said, were essential for the social and economic development of the country, and cited their use for the construction of projects and the building of infrastructure.
Later in an interview, the General Secretary of the Commercial Quarry Operators Association, Mr. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, said effective collaboration and coordination by the various stakeholders in the industry, together with a backing by the government, was needed to curtail encroachment on quarry sites.
He said 25 quarry operators in the Eastern, Ashanti and Western regions had been compelled to shut down their operations since 2005 as a result of encroachment.
“People are encroaching and building so close to our quarry concessions and on rocks and because of that we are losing the granite. We may have to either spend money to relocate such communities before we can access the granite or we will have to import granite,” he said.
It is said the threat to quarrying will not affect only the construction industry but also the arts industry, as the stones are also used for artifacts and polished tiles.