Friday, July 19, 2024

Bibiani Anhwiaso Bekwai: Rich in Minerals, natives suffering in Poverty – KF Nyame write

The Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai Municipality in Ghana’s Western North Region is a paradox of plenty. Rich in minerals like bauxite and gold, the area should ideally be a beacon of prosperity for its residents.

Instead, many of the indigenous people are living in poverty, their potential and dreams stifled by systemic neglect and exploitation. This stark contrast between resource abundance and local hardship calls for urgent and comprehensive intervention.

A recurring issue is the exploitation and marginalization of local residents in the job market. Despite possessing the necessary skills and qualifications, many young people in the municipality are forced to migrate to cities like Kumasi, Accra, and Takoradi in search of better opportunities.

The mining companies operating in the area have continually overlooked local talent, preferring to hire outsiders or those with connections. The disillusionment is palpable; stories abound of job applications discarded in the streets, a painful reminder of the pervasive disregard for local aspirations.

At Awaso, where bauxite mining is a major industry, unemployment is rampant among the youth. The recruitment process is reportedly biased, favouring those with influential connections over qualified local candidates. This exclusionary practice has bred frustration and resentment, driving some to desperate measures.

In Bibiani, young people sometimes risk their lives scavenging for waste rocks at mining sites, a dangerous endeavour that has led to deadly confrontations with military personnel tasked with guarding these areas.

Despite the presence of Chirano Mines, a significant economic player in the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai Municipality, the local youth are facing a troubling employment crisis.

The mine, which has the potential to offer numerous job opportunities, has not substantially alleviated the unemployment issues plaguing the younger population.

The complicity of local leaders exacerbates the problem. Allegations persist that some chiefs and officials accept bribes to sideline their own people in favor of outsiders.

This betrayal of trust leaves many young residents disillusioned and trapped in a cycle of poverty. Even more distressing are reports of women being forced to compromise their dignity to secure employment.

The tragic killing of young people by military forces at abandoned mining pits starkly illustrates the human cost of this systemic failure. These incidents, coupled with the authorities’ silence, underscore the urgent need for accountability and reform.

The Member of Parliament (MP) and the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) must take decisive action to address these issues. They should prioritize transparent recruitment processes that favor qualified local applicants and work to eliminate corruption within their ranks.

Moreover, mining companies must be held accountable for their hiring practices and corporate social responsibilities. Initiatives to provide training and employment opportunities for local youth should be implemented, ensuring that the benefits of the region’s natural resources are shared equitably.

The plight of the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai’s indigenous people is a poignant example of the broader challenges faced by resource-rich yet impoverished communities.

It is a call to action for all stakeholders to champion justice and equitable development. As we ponder the question, “Should these happen to the youth in an area of rich resources?” the answer is a resounding no. It is time for change, and the time is now.

By Kelly-Fred Nyame, Editor-

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