From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Essumeja-Ash
Over 20 acres of land in the Asantemanso Forest, from which Ashantis are said to have originated is under siege, as some elders of the Essumeja Traditional Council (ETC) have sold portions of the forest to a contractor for sand winning activities in the Eastern part of the forest.
This development has also compelled some local farmers to sell their farmlands to a contractor by name Kwame Sefa, to win sand in the said forest.
The ramifications are that the nearby Subin River risks diminishing in size if this environmental degradation is allowed to go on. The devastation is occurring within River Subin and the Asantemanso forest.
It has also been reported that the Kyekyewere portion of the forest has been degraded, following sand winning activities in the area.
The Chronicle’s working visit to the virgin forest, which is increasingly being encroached upon by prospective developers, disclosed a fleet of tipper trucks collecting and disposing sand at Bekwai or Essumeja.
A large acre of palm plantation had being destroyed by an excavator to pave way for the sand winning business.
It was also established that chain saw operators have joined the bandwagon and are felling teak trees, a development this paper understands was ignited by the sale of parcel of lands by traditional authorities at Essumeja.
Mr. Kwame Sefa, the sand winning contractor, confirmed in a telephone interaction that he is into sand winning in the middle of Asantemanso forest, following approval by the Essumeja chiefs and elders.
Defending his complicity in the degradation of the environment, he stressed: “I am not doing galamsey for you to come and report in your newspaper. I am doing sand winning and I have a permit”.
Mr Sefa was emphatic that he bought the land from the traditional leaders at Essumeja and that he was not working in or around the river.
“I have bought the land and the community within which I am working has collected two trips of sand from me to build a market and the chiefs are aware of my presence in the forest”.
The sand winner told The Chronicle that the traditional council has given him permit and he also has daily permit to work.
The Chronicle visited Nana Kwadwo Nyarko, the Ankobeahene of ETC, in his house at Essumeja, where he confirmed that indeed Mr Sefa was once asked to do sand winning in the said place.
He indicated, however, that a small portion of land was sold to the contractor to work on, but wondered why the contractor had extended his operation.
The Ankobeahene told The Chronicle that the traditional authority would stop Kwame Sefa from degrading the environment at the expense of future generation.