The truth is, the people in the six coastal districts [Shama, Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, Ahanta West, Nzema East Municipal, Ellembelle and the Jomoro districts] of the region care so much about happenings in the oil and gas sector.
Disappointing Local Content Law?
In these six coastal districts, both government actors and community members agree that there have been changes in their way of life, both positive and otherwise.
Kofi Ackah lives at Asem-Nda Suazo, one of the communities behind the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant in Ellembelle district. He said to me on 11th October 2016 that “When you look at it from the national perspective, yes it is a good policy for Ghana. But what is it in there for us? Those of us in the districts, those of us in the villages where these oil activities are found, what did the Local Content LI provide for us? Nothing! Read the entire 46 page Local Content Law and you will not see anything in it for those of us in the six districts”.
Kofi Ackah may have a case because; the Local Content and Local Participation Regulations LI 2204 did not make deliberate provisions for people directly situated around the oil and gas enclaves. The provisions are largely for indigenous Ghanaian companies and how they could participate in the petroleum industry.
In fact, the regulation stated in its purpose among other things that it is to“ promote the maximization of value-addition and job creation through the use of local expertise, goods and services, businesses and financing in the petroleum industry value chain and their retention in the country; (b) develop local capacities in the petroleum industry value chain through education, skills transfer and expertise development, transfer of technology and know-how and active research and development programmes”….etc This is the position of the LI.
Now, it is proper to know that, the crisis in Nigeria’s Niger Delta is not happening because there are no such regulations like ours. It is because the people living around the oil enclaves feel “foreigners” are getting the booty at their expense. That is the reason militants are in arms with the federal government, to a large extent.
Like I said earlier, six districts [Shama, Sekondi Takoradi, Ahanta West, Nzema East, Ellembelle and the Jomoro] are those out of the 22 districts directly involved in the oil and gas sector. Drafters of the Local Content and Local Participation LI 2204 passed in 2013 “knew” this fact that, apart from the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Area where the living condition of people is a bit better, the 5 other districts struggle with unemployment, a lack of social services and a high school dropout rate. Yet what did the drafters of the law say about the six districts directly affected in the western region? Nothing!
Mickey Mouse jobs
“Our people say when the oil people come there will be work for us. But the work they refer to are temporary, after construction phase, only few people are seen working there. And you also see that many people from outside our areas will be working for the companies.
Take Ghana Gas and Quantum Gas for example. When they came, I was employed as a tipper truck driver. When they finish the construction works, I was asked to go home. This makes our happiness temporal. It’s a Micky mouse employment”. Thomas Duku, a now resident shoemaker at Anokyi told me on 11th October 2016.
In truth, many of the people in these oil districts are disappointed in the managers of the oil resources particular in the area of job creation.
“For me, I also don’t understand why some monies are not set aside for the conscious development of the six of us. It is true they are doing the roads and providing water for us, but the issue is that, these same things are done in bigger and larger quantities in Accra, Kumasi and elsewhere. Besides, these people are better placed in areas of job than us.
In the end, what originally should be our right is packaged back to us, and made to seem that we are getting them as a result of our resource they are extracting. We don’t benefit it in truth” Mabel Duku-Sanzule.
Argument over “it amounts to preferential treatment” has been shooting down request to give some deliberate attention to specific communities in which resources are extracted. Proponent of this idea argue that when it is given to people living in strategic economic areas, persons other than those in the resource enclave will demand same.
Yes! But truth also is that, in 2011 when Kosmos Energy spilt some mud water into the sea, it is the fishermen in the western region that suffered. As we speak, there are some people in other parts of the country who do not even know such incident happened, let alone understand the plight of these fishermen. So, in my opinion, it does not make sense in its entirety to reject the call for such exceptional treatment.
Again, when prices of accommodation, food and other services gets to the roofs, as a result of the perceived oil boom, persons in the Volta, Ashanti, Northern and the Brong Ahafo are not affected. It is those of us living in these oil districts that are the victims.
So the fight for “true” local content is on. Until then, people living in the six coastal districts continue to demand for a policy that will truly benefit the state and communities as well.
Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/ghanadecides.com/Ghana