Committee to address boundary challenges in Upper East Region
The Ghana Boundary Commission and its counterpart in Burkina Faso are putting together a special Joint Technical Committee to work towards addressing encroachment challenges on the boundaries separating the two countries.
The areas of focus are Paga and Sapeliga in the Kassena Nankana West and Bawku West districts in the Upper East Region.
The committee will be charged to come up with effective strategies to regulate activities of Youga Mining Company, a Burkina Faso-based gold mining firm.
The committee, which will meet at least twice every year, will look into other illegal mining activities to avoid encroachment on the boundaries separating the two countries.
It will also be required to find ways of addressing the deteriorating and disappearance of landmark boundary pillars at the Paga border and help preserve the territorial integrity of the two countries.
The formation of the committee is one of the outcomes of discussions held at Paga between members of the Ghana Boundary Commission and the Burkina Faso National Boundary Commission last Friday (July 16, 2021).
The meeting, among other things, discussed ways of solving boundary encroachment challenges facing the two countries, especially along the two border towns.
The delegations from the two countries agreed that the activities of the Youga Mining Company coupled with other illegal mining activities had encroached on the territory of Ghana and was affecting the international boundary at Sapeliga.
They also came to the understanding that pillars separating the two countries along the Paga border were deteriorating and had subsequently been encroached upon by human settlement and activities.
There was, therefore, the need for collaborative efforts to address them and protect the international boundaries.
The National Coordinator of the Ghana Boundary Commission, Major General Dr Emmanuel Kotia, who spoke to the media after the engagement with their counterparts in Burkina Faso, said the special joint technical committee would assess the mining activities at Sapeliga and Paga areas to formulate appropriate solutions to the issues.
“Both of us have agreed that the joint technical team will meet at Sapeliga for a day’s assessment so that the issue of the international boundary is resolved. It will also assess the extent of damage and whether the activities of the Youga Mining Company in Burkina Faso has breached Ghana’s boundary because it is an underground mining area,” Dr Kotia noted.
The second issue, he noted, had to do with Paga general area and Burkina Faso where human activities had eclipsed the boundary pillars and if the two countries did not take care, the clear demarcation of the boundary pillars would be missing.
“The joint team will further make an assessment at Paga and at the next meeting we will be able to come out with some decisions that will help resolve the issue,” the national coordinator further explained.
Dr Kotia equally observed that one major decision that both teams agreed on “was that we are going to regularise the meetings between Ghana and Burkina Faso; we are going to have another meeting in Burkina Faso before the end of the year, so invariably we will always have at least two meetings in a year.”
Burkina Faso’s commitment
The Permanent Secretary of the Burkina Faso National Boundary Commission, Ms Zagre Leontine, said her outfit wrote to the Government of Ghana some years ago hoping for a collaboration in this manner to clearly protect the international boundaries in the interest of both countries.
She noted that the decision to form the special joint technical committee and the regularisation of the meetings was, therefore, in the right direction to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries. Ms Leontine, therefore, expressed the hope that stakeholders concerned would work peacefully to resolve the issues amicably.
The permanent secretary was also of the view that the boundary pillars were constructed about 30 years ago and acknowledged that some of the pillars had deteriorated while others were removing. Ms Leontine said her outfit was committed to working with the Ghana Boundary Commission to address the issues at both places and foster deeper collaboration between the two neighbouring countries.