GWCL worried over destruction of vegetation cover of Barekese Dam

The Barekese Dam, which is the main source of water supply for residents of Kumasi and beyond risk being destroyed following the encroachment on its catchment area.

Dr. Hanson Mensah-Akutte planting a tree at the buffer zone of the Barekese reservoir which has been encroached upon.

The Ashanti Regional Chief Manager for the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Dr Hanson Mensah-Akutteh, told journalists at this year’s tree planting exercise at Barekese that if nothing is done to stop the encroachers, the consequences will be dire.

He noted that though they planted trees to re-vegetate the degraded land, the farmers have come back to clear them.

An official from the WC cutting down maize planted on the buffer zone of the Barekese reservoir.

“As much as possible, we have to re-afforest the land and get back our protection cover.

Currently, the volume of this resource has reduced drastically to 50%. It is supposed to be about 45.6 million cubic metres reservoir but it has dropped to 21.4 million cubic metres which means about half of the volume is gone,” Dr Mensah-Akutteh said.

“Currently we have done just 30 million gallons per day, even that, the resource is dwindling. If we increase our output, it is possible that we will not have the volume of water to treat for Asanteman and we believe it is our right to protect the forest and make sure the reserve is available for us.

“This why we are here this morning to make sure that the place is re-greened and that the forest cover is very good  to protect the resources for us and to sustain our delivery of water for the people of  Kumasi,” he added.

Students planting trees on the encroached area of the buffer zone.

Asked about the sustainability of the exercise, Hanson responded that they have seen a massive encroachment because people are not so much aware of the need to protect the forest.

“When this information goes to them, clearly we will do more community engagement this time round and do more tree planting for all of them to participate in”, he said. He indicated that they are planting ten thousand trees to safeguard the forest cover.

According to him, the forest itself has seven rivers and each of the rivers flow into the reservoir and that any encroachment would curtail the flow and discharge of these streams into the reservoir.

“What it means is that we will not have enough storage volumes for us to use or treat water for the people of Asanteman.”

The District Chief Executive for Atwima Nwabiagya North, Rebecca Yeboah, sounded a word of caution to the encroachers that, government will not tolerate their activities anymore.

She lauded the state for Green Ghana Day, saying it’s going to help her district save the Barekese Dam.

Ashanti Regional Manager of GWCL, Dr. Hanson Mensah-Akutteh, speaking to the media at the event.

On his part, Mr. Yaw Boateng, a representative of the Water Commission (WC), stated that Ashanti region is not the only region which benefits from the Offin river. According to him, the River Offin goes beyond Ashanti region and that other communities benefit from it as well.

Mr Boateng, therefore, stated that if they are protecting the Offin River then the exercise is not only for Ashanti region but other communities beyond Ashanti.

Sounding a word of caution, he indicated that if they do not stop the encroachment, it could results in disaster for Ghana.

“If water becomes scarce it could lead to civil war, so we need to protect the water bodies, as we protect our lives”. Failure to do this, the representative from WC said, could spell doom for Ghana.

“We are playing with our survival and we will plead with stakeholders such as traditional leaders, politicians to step up efforts in addressing this challenge and to support government agencies in this direction to help us save River Offin so that GWCL can have water for treatment for Ghanaians.”

Speaking to the media, Issaka Amadu Ramadan II, the Zongo Chief of Barekesse, disclosed that  the buffer zone of the Barekese dam used to be occupied by some people, but the  government relocated them  to Assuofua about 38 years ago.

“When we were young, this place was a habitat and we used to come and pluck coconut here, but government relocated the settlers from this place”, he revealed.

Amadu Ramadan II continued that the buffer zone is a no go area, hence nobody should be seen there. “This means that this place has been reserved for the water and nobody must trespass the boundary. Whoever does so ought to be arrested,” the worried Barekese Zongo Chief told the media.

“I am saddened by what I have witnessed today. If I look at the encroachment and devastation being done along the banks of the river Offin and the disclosure by the Ghana Water Company Limited that Kumasi risks water shortage by three years’ time, it is a serious issue everybody must be concerned with.”


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