In Western Region the oil and gas industry is booming these years. The oil production began a couple of years ago and in January the gas is scheduled to start running through the pipelines. The discovery of the oilfields in 2007 made everyone optimistic about the future of Ghana, and there were great expectations that the oil revenues would be beneficial – especially for the Western Region.
The harsh reality is though that many of the communities still haven’t seen any from the oil and gas industry. This is also the case in the community of Diabene in Sekondi-Takoradi metropolitan where the discovery of oil and gas has become more of a curse than a blessing to the community members.
»Everyone talks about Takoradi as the rich oil city, but look at the state of the city and the communities around it. We are not seeing any of the oil revenues at all, while the cost of livelihood is rising drastically, « says a concerned community member.
A gas pipeline was recently constructed outside of Diabene, and even though the Chief was consulted before Ghana Gas began the construction, the affected community members did not receive all the compensation that they were entitled to.
»Before Ghana Gas began the construction of the pipeline they came to me and asked permission and said that they would pay compensation to all the farmers that were going to loose their land. They paid some money for the lost crops, but the amount was much smaller than the amount that we agreed on to begin with, and many farmers still haven’t received any compensation for the land itself,« says the Chief of Diabene.
For security reasons the farmers are not allowed to get in a radius closer than 200 meters of the land where the gas pipeline is. So in reality the farmers in Diabene have lost much more than the land they were paid compensation for.
» If we go near our old land, the Ghana Gas security personnel will throw us away. When they recently tested the gas pipelines, no one was allowed crossing the land for two days, and we were not paid any compensation for our lost work. I am afraid what will happen when they start the production. How can our children get something to eat, if we are not allowed to access our own land?« says a community member.
The big trucks that were used to construct the pipeline also left the road in a really poor state, but Ghana Gas still have not done anything about this issue.
The community members are also concerned about the fact that so few of them get the opportunity to work in the oil and gas sector. Unemployment is slowly draining the community of Diabene, no livelihood opportunities.
» If Ghana Gas is going to repair the road for us, they should use local contractors to do that work. The same thing with the security personnel, which they need to watch over the gas pipeline. The local community members should be the ones doing that job, not someone from Accra or Kumasi,« shouts a community member.
Lack of the proper education is one of the main reasons why the community members are not involved more in the oil and gas sector. The community members of Diabene therefore welcomed the prospect of UCSOND sensitising them on issues connected to Oil and Gas, as well as the possibility that UCSOND could help them to engage with Ghana Gas.
UCSOND tried to get a comment from Ghana Gas for this article, but they were not willing to comment on this specific case.