Last year, officials of the Bui Power Authority led by the resettlement officer, Salifu Wumbila, came to my village, Jama, on the northern side of the Bui Dam project, took photographs of us and evaluated our farms for compensation to be paid as our farmlands would eventually be covered by the dam’s high waters. In all 16 farmers were registered.
By June 2010 we had been issued with completed copies of Standard Form ‘F’ with ID numbers and details of farm size and crops cultivated. We were advised to, as much as possible, leave the areas because the blocking of the reservoir will affect our farms, should we cultivate on those lands. Those who had means to move to new farmlands did, and those of us who had no means, could not leave the area and continued to cultivate there.
On June 15, 2011, the dam was blocked and the waters upstream started rising. Those of us who cultivated within the catchment area of flooding have had our farms completely submerged. Many were those who blamed us, particularly me, for not heeding advice from the Bui Power Authority to leave the place before the blocking of the dam, without considering that we have been victims of circumstances.
Was it not the responsibility of the Bui Power Authority to see to it that we were compensated early enough for us to use some of the money to look for new farmlands and also cart our seed yams and cassava sticks to the new places? We farmed in the area because we had no alternative as there was no money to acquire and move to new farmlands.
To date, no compensation has been paid to any of us 16 registered farmers, two whom have passed away leaving a heavier economic burden on their wives and children. On all occasions that we asked the resettlement officer about the compensation monies, he told us that everything was at the Ministry of Finance. If that is true we should be most grateful if the Finance Ministry could come up with reasons why these monies have not been released to the Bui Power Authority for payment to us, the affected farmers.
Otherwise, the Authority should tell us something reasonably convincing and stop shifting the blame on a Ministry that is not dealing with us directly in any way. All we are asking for is compensation for our crops.
Kwame Bara (affected farmer),