Farmers at Asuature in the Shai Osuduku District of the Greater Accra Region, and surrounding communities, risk losing their livelihoods because of a supposed toxic waste released by a toiletries and plastics manufacturing Chinese company in the area.
The Osudoku Senior High Technical School has been shut down because of a harmful smoke emitted from the company, which had allegedly caused respiratory issues for some of the students and staff.
According to the Agricultural Science teacher of the school, Martin Fianu, apart from the students and staff who are affected, the issue has become a major security threat because farmers around the factory are recording low yields.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Fianu claimed that, tilapia production along the Volta Lake, rice production at Asutuare, as well as banana farmers, are likely to be affected.
“The waste material from their paper is dumped into a drain which leads into a catchment drain of the canal. So the canal system where the catchment drain is supposed to protect the main canal from being breached is also now under threat. And it has gone all the way into polluting the drainage system and this drainage system discharges wastewater into the Volta.”
“If this continues, it means the rice production at Asutsuare, other agriculture producing companies like tilapia production, banana farms are all under threat because of the discharge from the factory. The factory fumes, together with the toilet roll fumes are causing serious problems,” the agricultural science tutor added.
Osuduku Sec Tech closed down
On the closure of the Osudoku SHS, the Headmistress of the school, Sylvia Baaba Yankey, earlier complained in a Citi News that doctors advised the students to stop smoking when they visit the hospital although they don’t smoke.
“We experience the fumes on the compound every now and then, some of them who took ill were taken to the hospital. According to some of them, the doctor advised them to stop smoking, meanwhile they don’t smoke”
According to her, the pollution from the company had worsened such that they had no option than to send the students home for health and safety reasons.
Respiratory problems rampant
The Agric Science tutor also said on the Citi Breakfast Show that respiratory problems had become very common in the school due to the toxic fumes.
“The children have been having respiratory difficulties, when they go to the hospital; the doctors accuse them of being smokers. Not only the students, the staff also. One assistant headmaster in charge of administration also suffered same.”
Assistant headmaster transferred due to fumes
He said due to this, the assistant Headmaster was transferred to another school because he could not bear the toxic fumes.
“…Because of that, he was transferred to the Amasaman Senior High School. So it is affecting both staff and the students. The assistant headmaster had a health issue with his lungs and because of that it aggravated his briefing mechanism. He underwent a surgery. The health problem worsened because of factory’s fumes,” he added.
Also speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, the Assembly Member of the area, Jonathan Kwabla, said the Assembly is awaiting a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their next line of action.
“We haven’t met to take a decision on whether the factory should be relocated or not. The last time I spoke with the District Chief Executive, he said we are expecting a report from the EPA” he added.