The McCarthy Hill Residents’ Association, Accra, has expressed worry about the refusal of the Empire Cement Factory (ECF) to adhere to Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) directive to cease operations.
Rather, chairman of the group, Mr Eddie Quaynor said the ECF, a Chinese owned operator, had started production of cement at an alarming and accelerated speed.
At a press briefing yesterday to express their displeasure about the development, Mr Quaynor revealed that currently, three silos have been installed on the site of the factory, adding that the installations had heightened the Association’s suspicion that contrary to ECF’s claim of just producing cement paper bags it was producing and bagging the product.
The main concern of residents, he said was the health implications the cement producing factory posed to them.
Mr Quaynor stated that a letter dated March 26, 2021 was issued to ECF directing the company to stop all construction activities until an approval was granted by the EPA.
Also, he indicated that similar directives were issued in August 2020 by the EPA as well as the Office of the President in September 2020, adding that “all these instructions have fallen on deaf ears.”
Mr Quaynor stressed that some Chinese were not only engaged in illegal mining activities in the country but were also actively involved in illegal operations with absolute disregard to the laws of Ghana, citing EFC’s location at a densely populated residential area like Weija McCarthy as an example.
Mr Quaynor bemoaned that the operations of EFC was also causing destruction to Panbros salt, a salt manufacturing company which was a source of foreign exchange earner for the country.
Explaining, he mentioned that sitting a cement factory right next to a salt producing entity like Panbros salt was like destroying one precious industry conducive to the environment, for another that was detrimental to human settlement.
“It is inconceivable that the EPA was unable to enforce the law in this matter. It is also now clear to us that the EPA does not have stringent financial sanctions to impose on the ECF.”
“The lack of tough punitive measures enabled Empire Cement to disregard the EPA’s order to cease operations and continued to work unabated. Laws aimed at strengthening the powers of the EPA to impose stiffer penalties must be enacted,” he said.
Authorities at the Ministry of Environment Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI), he said were also aware of the situation but had still not made any attempts to stop the activities of ECF.
Mr Quaynor stressed that it was impossible for the Chinese to operate in the country unless they were supported, encouraged and abetted by Ghanaian collaborators, saying “the galamsey debacle is proof of this.”
In furtherance, he called on Ghanaians to stand up against foreign agents and businesses who attempted to destroy communities in the country, in the name of development.
“We must use all legal methods and means at our disposal to protect our communities and we should not shy away from doing the right thing even if it may be uncomfortable,” he added.