- Social & Environmental
Bui dam reservoir boosts local fishing industry
The Bui dam reservoir constructed, by the Bui Power Authority, managers of the 400 megawatts Bui Dam in the Banda District of the Brong-Ahafo region has boosted economic activities for the local fisher folks in the area. Communities such as Jama in the Bole Bamboi District of the Northern Region, situated upstream of the reservoir and Bongoase in the Banda District, which is downstream of the reservoir, have turned into fishing colonies due to influx of fish mongers and fishermen, including foreign nationals.
Economic activities at the once farming dominated communities was brisk, when the Ghana News Agency (GNA) visited the area over the weekend.
According to the people of the area, fish mongers and fishermen from the length and breadth of the country as well as other nationals from Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso had moved to the area. Most of the local fishermen and fish mongers are from Bole, Bamboi, Ada, Yeji, Sogakope and the Afram Plains. There were also a number of dealers in outboard motors and premix fuel, while fast food joints, chop bars and drinking pubs were springing up in the areas.
Artificial markets, which had been created in the two fishing communities could accommodate more than 7000 traders each, according to the locals. The fish mongers told the GNA in a random interview that their business activities were flourishing but the local fishermen complained that the influx of other colleagues to the communities was making fishing competitive. Other fishermen also expressed worry about the regular shortages of premix fuel, a situation which according to them were affecting their businesses.
Mr. Ojukwu Alovi, the Inland Fishing Coordinator at Jama, noted with concern that, the uncontrolled noise at the market had driven the fishes upstream and most of the fishermen could not afford the premix fuel to move deep to fish. According to him the BPA had declared moratorium at specific areas of the reservoir and because of that the fishermen could not get more catch, and appealed to the Authority to lift it.
Nana Kojo Pambo II, the Chief of Jama, noted that, the Bui dam has enhanced the livelihood of the local people because of the upsurge in business activities. But, he however expressed the fear that because of the influx of fishermen to the area, the fishing population in the reservoir would soon deplete. He appealed to the BPA to take precautionary measures to sustain the local fishing industry as many of the local people depended on that for their livelihood. Nana Pambo II noted that, delays in the payment of land and crop compensations to farmers who were directly or indirectly affected by the construction of the dam was now an issue among the local people. He said though the government had paid 40 per cent of crop compensation to some of the farmers, others had not those theirs and appealed to the BPA to facilitate the payments.
Mr. Chrisentus Kuunifaa, the Natural Resources Manager of the BPA later told the GNA that the Authority has designed a viable fishing management plan to improve on and sustain the local fishing industry. He explained that the Jama and Bongoase landing sites were the only routes to the reservoir, indicating that the BPA sought assistance from the Northern Regional Security Council, who had deployed Police, Military and Navy personnel to patrol the reservoir. They were asked to ensure that the fishermen undertake their activities at approved areas of the reservoir, and also to ensure that they use approved methods for fishing, Mr. Kuunifaa explained. He said plans were in the pipeline for the BPA to develop a modern market, which would contain sheds, cold stores and a lorry station. Mr. Kuunifaa said the Authority had demarcated an area for the local people to build affordable houses.
At the resettlement communities, the GNA gathered that the population had increased tremendously because of the fishing business. Mr. Samuel Villa, a Medical Assistant, in-charge of the Jama Health Center, said Out Patient Department (OPD) cases had seen a drastic increase, indicating that, the facility attends to more than 30 OPD cases daily as compared to the previous figure of about 10 to 15 cases. He said malaria, skin diseases, respiratory infections and diarrhea were among the dominant cases and added that bilharzia is gradually recording higher numbers. Mr. Villa noted with regret that, teenage pregnancy was also assuming alarming proportions, pointing out that victims were mostly between 10-14 years. He said the centre needed urgent expansion works as well as laboratory and other minor surgical equipment. Mr. Villa appealed to the BPA and Non-governmental organizations to assist the residents in expanding the facility.
The situation was not different at the Bui Community Health Planning Services (CHPS) Compound at the resettlement township, near the Bongoase community. Mr. Jacob Munukpah, the Banda District Director of Health, told the GNA that lack of water and inadequate accommodation for health personnel were the major problems and appealed for the expansion of the compound.
The Bui dam reservoir was created by the main and saddle dams and it has a maximum capacity of 12,570 million cubic metres (10,190,000 acre-feet) of which 7,720 million cubic metres (6,260,000 acre-feet) is useful for power generation and irrigation. According to the BPA, the reservoir's maximum operating level is 185 metres (607 feet) ASL and the minimum, 167 metres (548 feet) ASL and covers a surface area of 440 square kilometres (170 sq miles) at its maximum level and 288 square kilometres (111 square miles) at the minimum level.