Mr. Speaker, I would wish to associate myself with the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, the construction of the two dams in this country has indeed brought a lot of hardship to the people living in the Lower Volta Basin as earlier stated by hon. Members who have spoken. Mr. Speaker, even though the nation can pride itself on these two great assets, the Lower Volta Basin communities continue to regret the day that these dams were constructed.
Mr. Speaker, I am saying this because large tracts of virgin land, their main source of livelihood, have been taken away from them. Their cash crops, cocoa, which were hitherto, growing in that area, have all gone under the Volta Lake. Mr. Speaker, everything -- their cola-nut trees, palm trees and everything have been swallowed up. But up till now, Mr. Speaker, no compensation has been paid to these people. The only compensation paid, I must say, was for the cash crops but the actual lands that were inundated have not been paid for.
Mr. Speaker, the people have been deprived of their farmlands and this has resulted in the migration of these people from the rural areas to the urban centres looking for non-existent jobs. Mr. Speaker, those who are not qualified for these types of jobs have moved into other forest areas to do farming, where they are being harassed.
Mr. Speaker, I am not a prophet of doom but should anything negative happen to these dams now, our people living at the lower stretch of the dam now would experience something that would
be too disastrous, even more than the Tsunami that we have been talking about.
Mr. Speaker, it is in this vein that I would want to appeal to the VRA that they should try to review upwards the provisions that have been made for these areas.
Mr. Speaker, the settlement areas that they pretend to be catering for or the provisions that they have made for -- In my constituency, Lower Manya Krobo alone, we have a place like Anyaboni; in the Fanteakwa constituency we have a similar area.
Mr. Speaker, the roads that have been made for these areas that are called resettlements are nothing than what can be described as hencoops. No provisions have been made for expansion of the families and the growth of the population in the area. Now, no lands have also been attached to them so that people are just moving from the area to other areas, and they are facing problems.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to say that VRA must endeavour to help these areas. Now there are no jobs, no sources of employment in these areas. In my constituency it is only Akosombo Textiles Limited (ATL) and Juapong Textiles that have been trying to help them a little bit. Juapong has closed down now and ATL is on a redundancy list.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is about time that VRA came out objectively to do something for these areas so that they will also benefit from the assets that the whole country is priding herself on.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to associate myself with this Statement.
Mr. Joe Kwashie Gidisu (NDC --
Central Tongu): Mr. Speaker, a lot of my hon. Colleagues have already spoken about the impact and the effect of the dams on the Lower Volta Basin.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to draw attention to the very Act establishing the VRA, that is the Volta River Development Act, 1961. If one looks at clause 10 (2) (e) of the Act, it states and defines the responsibilities of the VRA, which are only for the upstream, the northern side of the two dams, neglecting the southern sector.
Mr. Speaker, not until the VRA Act of 1961 is revised to give statutory responsibility for the lower basin to the VRA, all these comments we are making will not be taken seriously. This is because the statutory provisions in the Act limit responsibilities of the VRA to only the northern sides of the dam and the settlement areas.
Mr. Speaker, it is on this note that one would realize that we have two communities in the Lower Volta Basin which are supposed to be resettlements, that is, Kojoku and Torgome as noted by an hon. Member. But unfortunately, because there is no statutory provision compelling the VRA to seriously treat the Lower Volta Basin as it does the northern sector of the two dams, those communities have been at the receiving end of the worst treatment that the VRA could give to settler communities.
Mr. Speaker, I would therefore want to seriously call for the revision of the Volta River Authority Act of 1961 to make it statutory or an obligation for the VRA to equally give attention to the Lower Volta Basin. It is very sad to note that about eight per cent of communities in the Lower Volta Basin are not connected to the national grid. The basic factor, which had led to the construction of the Volta