Katapor, a community near Pokuase in the Ga West District of the Greater Accra Region was until recently known to be unique, as it was surrounded by mountains and scenery green forest, portions of which served as farmlands for the people.
But, the treasures of the community are under massive attack by stone quarry companies who have manage to remove all the vegetation cover in the locality, followed by the flattening of the mountains.
Alarmed by the uncontrolled destruction currently ongoing in the area, policy think-thank, the Social Democracy and Development Dialogue Forum – Africa (SDDDF-Africa), during a community engagement expressed shock over the level of degradation.
In a statement, it described the destruction of the natural resources at Katapor as heartless depletion.
“SDDDF-Africa is alarmed about the environmental degradation activities ongoing in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra region which run counter to the efforts to achieve the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets”.
“This sad situation was witnessed at Katapor, a community near Pokuase by SDDDF-Africa team during a Community Engagement exercise as part of SDDDF-Africa's Help Save Ghana Agenda. It is important to note that the engagement was at the invitation of the Assembly woman of the Dedeman Electoral Area, Mrs Beatrice Agbalenyo who has major concerns about the total neglect and suffering of her people as a result of the degradation activities”, the statement said.
During the visit, SDDDF-Africa revealed that, its team witnessed situations where three different huge and sprawling mountains were being flattened with the sole motive to trade the products as gravel or sand for construction works.
“At one of the degradation activity sites said to be owned by one Mr Abor, here is a sprawling mountain of about 150 - 200 feet in height which already is halfway gone as excavators seen at the site were busy filling the buckets of the many 20-tonner tipper trucks that visit the site to cart away gravel and sand from the remaining half”, it observed.
The neglected havoc
The removal of the vegetation cover and subsequent flattening of the mountains has left Katapor and nearby towns to suffer massive flooding during downpours which had left in its wake gullies from the destruction site into the Katapor township.
What is worse, erosion has eaten the base or foundations of many homes and residents are having to go the extra mile to find ways of protecting their buildings from further damage from flood waters at an extra cost.
According to the Assembly woman and other inhabitants who interacted with the SDDDF-Africa team, it is at one's own peril to step out of his/her house when there is a downpour in the area because one could easily be carried away by the pounding flood water, mentioning that, a middle-aged woman was nearly carried away in front of the Katapor Basic school recently.
SDGs are being undermined
According to SDDDF-Africa, SDGs #13 and #15 are the goals particularly being undermined in the ongoing heartless depletion. “SDG #13 is about Climate Action which states: "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts". SDG #15 also states: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”, it explained.
The Policy think-thank said, it finds it more curious that the Government of Ghana would want Ghanaians and the entire world to believe it is working to achieve the 2030 SDG stated targets, but state institutions such as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minerals Commission, Ga West Municipal Assembly and National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) etc, who among other things have direct responsibility in ensuring the success of the SDGs, are rather gleefully presiding over the unimaginable degradation of the environment, worsening the plight of the people.
“In demanding answers, SDDDF-Africa would like to ask Ministries of Lands & Natural Resources and Environment Science & Technology to as a matter of urgency reconcile its UN SDG objectives with the bare face heartless depletion ongoing which defeats the 2030 SDG targets and to come clean on the matter”, it said.
The group is therefore urging government to take immediate steps to halt the ongoing degradation since such scenery treasures are all some countries have as tourist attractions from which they are raking fortunes.
It also suggested that, government must move to save the situation in the Katapor area by fixing the deplorable roads and gullies, do re-engineering of portions of the destruction site to appropriately direct flood water, and partly hold Mr Abor responsible as he owns the business that is creating the problems.
“We entreat the World Bank, United Nations Ghana office and other development partners committed to Ghana's climate change issues to take a keen interest in this all-important matter and other likely ones ongoing elsewhere at our blind sides, all in an effort to achieve the set SDG targets”, the statement added.