The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin a series of public hearings on prospecting for oil in the Keta Delta Block.
According to a statement from the EPA, the public hearings are being held in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Regulations 1999, LI 1652 (Regulation 17) which mandates exploration firms to hold public hearings to elicit concerns and expectations from communities about the proposed 2D seismic survey by Swiss African Oil Company, SAOC, in the Keta Delta Block.
The public hearing will give the various stakeholders, the communities within the block, civil society organizations (CSOs) and the general public to present their concerns and expectations about the proposed project. The proponent will also be given an opportunity to propose mitigation measures and to address key public concerns.
According to the notice, hearings which begin from the Ketu South District Assembly Hall on June 4 will involve the assembly members, institutions, community members, chiefs and elders and the general public.
The hearings will continue at the Keta Municipal Assembly Hall following day with same category of people who were in Denu a day earlier. This will be followed by another one for the communities in the South Tongu District at the assembly hall in Sogakope on June 6.
The chiefs and people of Ada East District including community members, institutions and the general public will meet at the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Ada-Foah on June 7 for the interaction with the EPA officials.
However civil society organisations, CSOs, the media, non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and the general public will have their turn at the Keta ICT Centre on June 8 to listen to the EPA officials and voice their concerns.
Oil drilling in the Keta Delta has become a contentious issue as various interest groups from the area have raised their concerns and filed an injunction against the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC, SWAOCO, Pet Volta Investments Limited and the Attorney General against the plan citing various United Nations documents one of which designated the area a RAMSAR site. In addition, they described the area as a delicate ecological zone which stands the risk of being destroyed through oil drilling.
While pursuing the legal angle to stop the prospecting, the people from the districts on May 13 held a demonstration across the districts and presented a petition to President Nana Akufo-Addo through the district and regional political heads to register their opposition to the plan.
By Kafui Gale-Zoyiku|goldstreetbusiness.com