Some residents of Apegusu and Mpakadan in the Asuogyaman district of the Eastern Region say they are reeling under the negative impact of a dynamite blast by contractors working on the Tema to Mpakadan railway project.
The residents have also raised serious concerns over the non-payment of compensation coupled with the poor management of natural resources in affected communities.
According to them, since the construction work begun, the contractor has failed to come to their aide as part of their cooperate social responsibility.
The 97.6 kilometer Tema-Mpakadan railway project was started in 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by November 2021, but affected residents allege, little has been done to address the needs of affected residents.
They want government to call all contractors working around the Apegusu and Mpakadan stretch to order before they are compelled to legitimately halt the ongoing project.
Several buildings within the catchment area have suffered serious structural defects after ADV logistics undertook the blasting of rocks to pave way for construction works.
Some affected residents say the construction company, ADV Logistics is yet to pay any form of compensation despite collating about 98 names of people affected by the blast.
Spokesperson for the concerned residents, Kingsley Darko noted that, although they support the project, they are of the view that contractors working on the project must work according to strict regulations while protecting lives and properties.
“The construction of the railway has made it virtually impossible to access the community clinic in Apegusu as access have been cut to the place by the project. All pleas to AFCON to construct access road to the clinic has been treated with contempt.
“The project has also made it impossible for people to access their farms due to the elevation of the railway line. So we need the contractors to rethink through their actions and do the needful for the people,” he said.
According to him, all affected persons must be appropriately compensated. He urged the construction firm to adhere to all safety and security measures in accordance with the mining regulations in all future blasts within the catchment area.
He further mentioned that “due to the massive trauma indigenes have suffered as a result of the fear caused by the unannounced blasting of rocks in the area, there should be a post trauma counseling for affected persons and the community at large”.
Some residents who joined the press conference complained of several acres of their farm lands being destroyed.
“Several farm lands and resources have been destroyed in our town here and no form of compensation has been paid to the affected persons. Several letters in the form of appeals also fell on deaf ears and we think it’s high time the attention of the President is drawn to this”.
The angry residents allege a class three pupil died in one of the pits after contractors failed to cover it.
“Several pits have been left uncovered and we even lost a 12 year old boy in one of the pits. We fear this project instead of being a blessing will be a curse to us,” a resident said.
The Assistant Headmaster of Apegusu Senior High School, Raphael Kalco, on his part said “ the contractors failed to notify us during the blasting of the rocks so we could safeguard our students. We are always taken by surprise anytime there is a blast.
“The consistent blast has caused serious fear and panic among our students and as such has destroyed several properties in the school. Many of our structures now have defects.
“Already this school has a lot of needs which infrastructure is inclusive and here we are now having to have most of our school buildings suffer defects as a result of the railway project”.
Meanwhile, after several months of disregarding the protocols to be undertaken ahead of blasting, a letter written by one of the sub contractors undertaking the railway project, ADV Infrastructure and Logistics Limited and addressed to the community of Mpakadan and dated August 20, 2021 seek to notify the community of their intended blasting activities effective February to October 2021.