Sandwinners are destroying the source of drinking water for the over 20,000 residents at Asutusare and nearby communities in the Shai Osudoku District.
The company run by some Chinese and Ghanaian nationals is undertaking the sand winning activities in the Volta River, specifically at where the Asutsuare Water Treatment Plant intake point where water is treated and distributed to community members.
Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo of the Environment and Technology desk who visited the area reports that the situation is making it difficult for the treatment plant to continue operating.
The activities of the company, Z and J 198 Ghana Limited, has left large portions of the riverbank looking almost bare as a lot of sand has been scooped away.
Now, they are digging the sand from beneath the river using heavy machinery. They then transport the sand to various parts of Accra for sale.
According to officials manning the water treatment plant, the activities of the sand winners is digging up a lot of sand which is destroying their equipment.
“They pollute the water in such a way that in treating it, cost of production increases. When they stir the water, the sand deposits find itself into our machines which blocks the machine. It wears the machine off rapidly. Then it causes high production,” Isaac Nyarko, a technician at the water treatment site told Gakpo.
He also alleges the company uses toxic chemicals in their activities and sometimes their equipment spill oil in the water, thereby polluting it and causing the death of aquatic animals.
“They use chemicals to mine the sand from the river bed. And at the end of the day, it changes the watercolour. You see suspended particles in the water. At times, you see oil spillage on the surface of the water. At times, you see dead suspended fishes in the water,” he explained.
The technician is warning the treatment plant could collapse as a result of the activities of the company. “If they continue to mine the sand, the intake building will shake. And it could collapse. And that means water will not get to the community,” he said.
The water treatment plant officials also complain they are usually forced to use higher levels of chemicals in treating the water because they are overly polluted. “The situation is getting worse every day,” Mr Nyarko told Joy news.
Residents complain about the activities of the sand winners which have rendered the water body lifeless. At first, they could bath using the water from the river. They also used to drink from it and fish from it. But not anymore.
“At first the water was clear, but now it’s very dirty. When you bath it, you get rushes,” a resident Isaac Tetteh told Joy news. “At first, when the water was there, you go small, then you get fish. Now, you have to go far away to get fish,” he added.
He says previously, fisherfolks used to fix cages in the river to undertake fish farming but they can’t do that anymore because of the activities of the company. “If you put fingerlings, the dirty water mixes with the fresh one and then the fishes will die,” he complained.
Women in the community are also unhappy about the situation.
“They are spoiling our water for us. Now, we get sicknesses like diarrhoea from drinking it. We want government to help us and stop them,” a resident Rebecca Amenyo told Joy news.
The sand fetched from the area is transported to Accra and sold to homeowners for construction purposes.
Francis Dzagbla who drives one of the trucks that load sand from the area told Joy News; “this one, I dey take go East Legon. Each truck is 1,500.”
He was, however, unable to tell who gave them the green light to mine sand in the area.
Officials of the company have declined comment on the issue, referring us to their headquarters.