Over 600 residents of Agbozume, Kpejakope, Nogokpo and other surrounding villages in the Ketu South district of the Volta Region including Chiefs, the elderly and children held a huge protest along the Keta Lagoon to register their anger over the takeover of the lagoon by an Indian firm.
The protest last weekend brought activities in the entire townships to a halt and attracted dozens of Police officers and the Volta Regional Security Co-ordinator, Lt Col David Dovlo.
After a press briefing by the Chiefs and elders of the peeved communities on the current state of negotiations between them, Kesington Salt Factory executives and government agencies, they marched to the lagoon to stage the protest.
They indicated that the negotiations have not been fruitful.
The Chiefs and people claim that their source of livelihood which is the lagoon has been taken away from them, without their knowledge, by Indian salt mining company, Kesington Salt Factory, hence heightening the level of poverty and exposing them to environmental dangers and making life unbearable for them.
According to them, a crater that has been created by the factory as they scoop the sand which hitherto protected the banks of the lagoon and prevented flooding in the community to construct roads, pose a danger to them.
Togbui Atsu Awuaba V, chief of the Somey Traditional Area, in Agbozume, said three years ago, without consulting them, government gave the lagoon to the Indian salt mining factory.
He said the people of Somey woke up one day only to see earth-moving machines vigourously working at the lagoon.
He added that although they have written several letters to various stakeholders including the Minerals Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the municipal assembly, there had been no response while construction work was going on.
"From today we will not sit down. They have power, and government is using its machinery but our power is the people's power. Once government has shown that whether we live or die, it is not concerned, we will also find a way of living", he stressed.
The presence of the police angered the protesters as they alleged that the police had arrested three of the youth in the community already for vandalising the properties of the salt factory, which they claim is false.
But the Volta Regional Commander of police assured the residence the three will be freed when further investigations vindicates them.
The chiefs and people say they are giving the relevant government agencies including the Mineral Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Municipal Assembly the opportunity to do something about their concern before they resort to the worse action.
The Keta Lagoon is a large body of Saline water separated from the sea Gulf of Guinea by a narrow strip of land.
The lagoon stretches from Keta through Adina to Agbozume and sorrounding communities.
With seasonal inflow of sea water, marine fishes migrate to breed in the calmer waters of the lagoon, especially the safe haven provided by the mangrove swamp section.
Different varieties of fishes including tilapia, mudfish, catfish, silverfish and crabs are found in the lagoon providing a source of livelihood for communities along the lagoon.
The Keta Lagoon also serves as a transport route for communities along its stretch and a major tourist site in the region.
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