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Tension@ Shai Hills, Military Camps

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New army-recruits at Shai Hills

Tension is mounting at Shai Hills between the military and commercial quarry operators after blasting activities of the latter and subsequent vibration had affected military structures in the enclave. The military have reportedly lost a health facility and Square (parade ground) among other buildings at the Army Recruits Training School (ARTS) and Bundase Training Camp due to the activities of the quarry companies.

The men in uniform who could no longer tolerate the ongoing destruction of their buildings despite a series of meetings held with the operators have gone to shut down the twenty-four (24) quarry companies operating close to the camp.  The military exercise, which started on Monday April 25, 2022, came to a climax on Friday April 30, 2022.  The decision to shut down these companies have reportedly affected revenue such as conveyance fees, Value Added Tax (VAT) and royalties paid to the local government assemblies.

Information available to The Chronicle has it that the military relocated its Training Centre from the Kamina Barracks in Tamale to present base of ARTS at Shai Hills in the early nineties.The place was an abandoned Road Camp for the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), which structures were inherited by the soldiers for a training school.

Meanwhile, the construction of the Tema Harbour in the fifties resulted in the establishment of the quarries from where boulders were conveyed by rail.Few years after the relocation, the impact of the vibration started destroying the structures in the camp. The development, The Chronicle gathered, forced Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to resort to different engineering solutions, especially during the tenure of office of Dr Kwame Addo Kufour as the Minister for Defense.

Both ARTS and the Bundase Training Camp have now been severely affected by the devastating effect of the blasting and as a result, the military authorities since the beginning of last year convened meetings with the Commercial Quarry Operators who agreed to find a lasting solution to their predicament. The Chronicle understands each quarry operator tasked the military to furnish them with estimates, which was done.

However, the quarry operators felt the cost was on the high side and informed the soldiers that one of their members also functions as a construction company and that they preferred their own working on the destroyed structures.Following this, each Quarry was levied to undertake the repairs.

On Thursday December 9, 2021, a letter emanating from the Commercial Quarry Operators Association was addressed to All Quarry Operators,  Shai Hills and Ningo Prampram District.

Captioned, UPDATE ON MEETING AND DECISION  TAKEN, it read: We refer to our meeting and proposal that was made that each quarry should contribute Ghc10,000.00 (Ten thousand Ghana Cedis) toward the repairs to be made to the Ghana Armed Forces properties at Shai Hills and Bundase.

At our last meeting with the Chief of Army Staff, he proposed that since members of the association within the enclave are contractors, we should rather collect the monies amongst ourselves and initiate the repairs.Therefore, the said amount should be paid to the Commercial Quarry Operators Association bank account.The deadline for the payment is Thursday December 16, 2021, to enable the contractor to commence work as soon as possible.

The Chronicle gathered that only a few out of the twenty-four companies paid the agreed amount.  When the Commercial Quarry Operators Association was contacted, its Chairman, Dr Mireku confirmed the story, but pleaded that they are already in discussions with the military for amicable resolution of the impasse.

A highly respectable source at Burma Camp who pleaded for anonymity told this reporter that the army would only soften their stance when they see a contractor on site working on the damaged buildings at the camp. Meanwhile a bird has whispered into the ears of The Chronicle that both the military and the quarry companies will be holding a crunch meeting at Burma Camp this morning to discuss the issue.

Stay tuned as The Chronicle makes way to the Geological Survey Department, Atomic Energy Commission, Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to find out the extent of blasting effects on the immediate communities and whether only regulated explosives are used there.

JOHN BEDIAKO

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