Residents of Tumu in the Sissala East Municipality of the Upper West Region are demanding the immediate shut down and evacuation of all equipment of a timber processing factory in Tumu within one-week.
The residents said the siting and operations of the timber processing factory in Tumu posed a perilous threat to the environment of which they all owed their survival to.
The residents who demonstrated through the principal streets of Tumu cladded in red attire and carrying placards with various inscriptions, later converged at the premises of the Sissala East Municipal Assembly, where a petition was presented to the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr. Karim Nanyua.
The petition, which was read by Mr Osman Kanton, a convenor of the demonstrators, called on the Assembly to immediately revoke the building permit it had granted the company, since its activities were not in the interest of the community and also posed a threat to their livelihoods.
The petition also demanded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to immediately revoke the permit it granted the company.
It also asked the security agencies especially, the Ghana Police Service to supervise the shut down and peaceful evacuation of the company within one-week.
The petition stated that failure to take action on these demands within the one-week would leave the community with no option than to defend itself in furtherance of its rights to life and livelihood.
The group alleged that recently, series of “stakeholder meetings” involving the company, the Sissala East Municipal Assembly and other stakeholders of the Municipality had culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) being drafted and soliciting signatures from various stakeholders.
They said draft, which was titled; “Framework of MoU between Bachapong and Li Songqun company and Sissala East Municipal Assembly, the Traditional Authorities and other stakeholders with respect to the company’s operations in the Sissala East Municipality” should not be entertained.
Meanwhile, Mr Nanyua in receiving the petition, denied that the Assembly signed an MoU or issued any operational permit to the said company, to set up a wood processing factory.
The MCE noted that with a tip-off, the Assembly had already taken a number of decisions including temporal stoppage and demand for documents from the company and that they would soon form a committee of capable minds to look into the issue.
“Our lives depend on our environment. So any attempt to destroy this environment is an attempt to destroy our lives and we cannot sit down and watch other people to toy with our lives,” he said and assured that the petition would be given the needed attention.
Professor Roger Kanton, the National Sissala Union President, said Sissala East and Sissala West occupied second and 10th positions in the country in terms of maize production.
He said should the massive destruction of the environment be allowed to continue, it would affect the success of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme in the area.
Meanwhile, a visit to the factory revealed that work was ongoing and some wood had been processed waiting to be conveyed.