[pullquote]“We are removing all the buildings, making them more attractive, building new ones. This is the future plan. We believe we can also catch the eye of investors,”[/pullquote]
Axim Beach Resort hasn’t seen an increase in tourists yet, but like many resorts along the coast of Western Region, they are preparing to draw in more visitors, as oil is drawing more people to the region.
“We’re expecting that people will be coming more, since people will be exploring,” says Solomon Alloteuy, the assistant manager of the resort.
The emerging oil sector is creating many opportunities for the region’s entrepreneurs. He says they have already started expanding to accommodate more guests.
“We are removing all the buildings, making them more attractive, building new ones. This is the future plan. We believe we can also catch the eye of investors,” he says.
This new development, however, comes after an oil spill in February, which threatened the coastline, as well as marine life. Alloteuy says the resort is still facing a number of environmental problems he fears may be associated with the offshore activities.
“There’s this oil residue and then some rubbish that comes, some weeds we have been experiencing that people are saying is because of the thing – it floats around the coast and becomes a heap rubbish.”
Paramount Chief of Western Nzema, Awulae Annor-Adjeye the third is one person who has been speaking out about environmental issues affecting the coast since oil was discovered three years ago.
[pullquote]“If for instance, a fisherman went to see and just by his simple knowledge he found some oil spill, where is he going to communicate this information to?”[/pullquote]
“We are not only looking at what happens downstream. We are looking at the environment within which the activity is taking place, where the exploration is taking place and that is offshore. What happens with the drill mud? What happens with the ballast water?”
Annor-Adjeye is launching a forum called the Platform for Coastal Communities of Western Region, to address environmental concerns of people living on the coast. The biggest problem, he says, is not having a place to report incidents when they occur.
“If for instance, a fisherman went to see and just by his simple knowledge he found some oil spill, where is he going to communicate this information to?”
Ballast water, which ships carry and often discharge at ports contain many biological organisms, some of them harmful to the local ecosystems. Programs co-ordinator Kyei Kwaco Yamoah of Friends of the Nation, a local NGO, says ballast water is also one of his concerns about the environmental impact of the emerging oil industry.
“The issue of ballast water has come up and ballast water has the potential to pollute marine waters to the extent that fisheries will be affected. It could even affect the whole extent of the coastal environment – all of these, we think there are not adequate measures as we speak to deal with them,” says Yamoah.
He says right now the focus is on revenue when it should be on the environment and Ghana needs to toughen its laws when it comes to conservation.
He says, “For now, we are concerned with the kind of loose laws we have relative to the oil and gas. The industry has started, but the laws we have are inadequate to handle the various challenges the oil and gas sector presents.”
That’s a problem Western Region can’t afford to ignore.