Kyebi (E/R), GNA – Government of Netherlands is poised to sustain and restore the deteriorating ecological health of the Birim River Basin.
Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Former Director General of Ghana Health Service, said deteriorating nature of the river had necessitated the need for government to mitigate illegal mining and logging.
“We must fight these human activities having adverse impact on the surface water resources of the basin to ensure smooth and effective restoration,” he said.
Prof. Akosa made this known during a familiarization visit by official of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Birim River Restoration Technical Team to inspect the pollution and deteriorating state of Birim River at Kyebi in the Eastern Region.
He noted that if appropriate measures were not taken early to save the Birim River, which supplies water to many Ghanaians living along the banks from being polluted by some selfish and greedy miners, the river would be dead, thereby denying millions of people access to drinking water.
The water quality of Birim River has been deteriorating since 2005. Forest cover of the major Atiwa watershed and the fringing riparian forests is also declining due to the heavy and uncontrolled logging.
The consequences have been considerable high sediment transport, sheet and gully erosion, loss biodiversity, emerging threat of flooding and high cost of treating water for supply due to the poor water quality.
The deforestation and forest degradation of the river has made it more vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as frequent and intensive flooding and decreased flow in the dry season.
Activities of the illegal miners have changed the colour of the river to the extent that it is impossible for people to drink from it as it used to be.
According to Prof Akosa, government and traditional authorities had made efforts to address the situation but had largely remained ad-hoc and uncoordinated in essence.
He explained that targeted environmental actions to address illegal mining and logging had not had direct linkage to the management of the water resources.
He said actions to enforce laws and regulations had either expressly addressed specific cases or events or had short-lived and not sustained.
Prof Akosa expressed worry over less attention paid by traditional authorities in communities to allow these illegal miners to pollute the river.
In an interview with Ghana News Agency, some of the residents questioned why their traditional leaders had not engaged the Police to chase out illegal miners, who were denying them of their survival, and that of the river.
They said it was impossible for them to drink from the river or bath with it because of its deadly nature due to the chemicals the miners used to mine.
Nana Barimah Yentumi Boaman, Okyehene’s Chief of Staff, noted that the traditional rulers in the community were doing all they could to stop these illegal activities.
He called on government to deploy Police and the Military personnel to the community to help to chase illegal miners out of the area.
Birim River Restoration Technical Team is an eight member team made of seasoned water resources experts established by the Ministry to plan, design and outline an implementation arrangement for reviving the Birim River.