The youths in Tontokrom in the Amansie South District of the Ashanti Region, have taken their frustration with regards to unemployment a notch higher, following the failure of authorities to establish the flagship Community Mining programme in the area.
Apparently getting fed up with their request, the unemployed youths, have resorted to issuing threats that they will resist any attempt to conduct the 2024 elections in their communities.
The youths, who have gone as far as demonstrating in the presence of the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in-charge of Mining, have told this paper, their request has still not been granted.
“Our request to the Deputy Minister to have the Community Mining in our area, has still not been granted. We have not heard from anyone since his assurance to us. When we visit the authorities, no one is telling us anything. Our MP, Yaw Frimpong, we have tried many times to engage him, but he appears not ready to help”.
They lamented that, even though they are Ghanaians and voters, the interest of foreign mining firms is being prioritized over the unemployment situation of the youths in the area, who have no employment opportunities.
“We are Ghanaian voters and we are unemployed, yet our authorities are rather protecting a foreign company by name Asanko, then we are telling them that, no Community Mining, No Vote. So, we won’t allow for any campaign”.
Spokesperson of the youth, Kwabena Animoyam, speaking to this paper over the weekend, vowed that in the event the government fails to heed their call to establish the initiative, they will carry out their threat.
They have therefore, giving authorities up to the end of December 2023, to do the needful.
Their threat comes after a series of clashes with a South African mining firm, Asanko Mines, which often storms the area with armed civilians, soldiers, police and now allegedly national security operatives.
The often weapon wielding security officers, this paper is informed, usually come to Tontokrom and its environs to clash with the youths over a portion of mining concession the youth have earmarked for their Community Mining initiative, which Asanko mining also insists belongs to them.
According to the youths, all attempts to have the initiative established in the area have proven futile, despite assurances by government to look into their concerns and possibly roll out the programme.
The company is also not relenting, as it prepares to start mining in the community, which will mean the youths would be denied the opportunity to have access to that part of the land.
Earlier this year, the government through a Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mireku Duker, had promised to look into the concerns of the youth for subsequent action.
At a recent event to launch Community mining project at Atwimanso under Amansie West district, the youth numbering about 400 wielding various placards, stormed the programme to communicate their grievances to the Deputy Minister and requested the government to also extend the programme to their community to curb the frightening unemployment rate.
The Deputy Minister spent time to specifically address the Tontokrom youth and tasked the Member of Parliament for the area together with the District Chief Executive (DCE) to ensure their issue is looked into.
But several months on, Mr Animoyam, said the youths are disappointed that no attempt has been made to look into the matter.
According to him, even though the DCE, Clement Opoku Gyamfi, is committed to the programme, he appears powerless.
The Youth leader, said the MP for Manso Adubia and a Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong, who is more influential, has failed to pull strings together to ensure the implementation of the programme.
He said, not even the incessant phone calls and visits to the MP’s office at the Ministry of Agriculture in Accra, have yielded any tangibles.
“We have visited the MP many times however, his commitment level is not encouraging. He does not look like someone that is ready to engage the minister on our behalf meanwhile, he is the one we voted for and has the capacity. I visited him about three weeks ago at his office at the Ministry. He normally doesn’t have anything to say, rather he is always pleading with us to exercise restraint,” frustrated youth leader said.
“I paid a visit to the Deputy Minister but I met his absence. As for the DCE, Clement Opoku Gyamfi, he is ready to help but he cannot do much. We are only pleading with our MP to justify why he is our elected leader”, he said.
According to him, this is what is informing their decision to boycott the 2024 election.
He said, they do not understand why citizens will be denied employment opportunities, when state security agencies are used to protect private and foreign firms at their expense.
He said, their situation is dire as development is lagging in the community. According to him their road network is nothing to write home about.
He said Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who was in the area recently to campaign, can attest to the deplorable nature of the road which is used by mining companies.
“Just a while ago, the vice president used our roads for a campaign and he saw how deplorable our roads are. We have no jobs and we don’t want to engage in illegal mining, known as galamsey, but want Community Mining, so that is our only request”.
Government in 2019, launched the implementation of the Community Mining scheme in place of the destructive illegal mining popularly known as galamsey.
The aim is to create decent livelihoods for Ghanaians especially the youths, a laudable initiative which hugely impacts lives in mining communities in the Ashanti, Western, Eastern regions among others.