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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The looming danger: fuel stations take over wetlands

      It stinks yet many can’t smell it. It is glare yet many can’t see.
      Environmental experts are mute on it, disaster managers have turned blind eye to it while politicians and businessmen rapidly destroy the environment, again for their selfish interests.
      It is the destruction of wetlands and water resources for development projects.
      The fastest growing business in Ghana and for that matter Africa currently is the establishment of fuel filling stations.
      This is perhaps due to the discovering of oil in commercial quantities in some parts of the Continent but the worrying issue is the setting up of such ventures on wetlands.
      The quietness of authorities on the situation is endorsing the illegality as the practice is gradually expanding and taking root.
     The practice is for desperate businessmen to talk landowners into releasing those lands to them.
     At the southern part of the Volta region - Aflao and Denu precisely, landowners have sold large plots of wetlands to dealers in the fuel filling station business.These businessmen filled the wetlands with gravel and other materials and turned the swampy beautiful evergreen wetlands into cement block fuel filling stations.
       The siting of these filling stations on these natural resourses is causing great loss of flora and fauna, which supports human interests and contributes to the health of other ecosystems.
       It is also denying streams and rivers in those areas organic material such as leaves that make up the waterway’s greatest resource of nutrients. (Mitsch 1993).
      In fact beyond carbon storage, wetlands provide a range of environmental services, including water filtration and storage, erosion control, a buffer against flooding, nutrient recycling, biodiversity maintenance, aesthetic and recreational enjoyment, provide habitat and critical refuge for countless species such as nursery for fisheries.
        It is for these and other reasons that authorities must act now. The notion that Africans prefer doing the wrong thing and crying for assistance when disaster strikes must be discouraged. Remember-one major cause of flooding in many parts of Ghana remains building on waterways and wetlands.
     People have unwittingly considered wetlands to be problems in need of a solution, yet wetlands are essential to the planet's health — and with hindsight, the problems in reality have turned out to be the draining of wetlands and other 'solutions' we humans devised, UN Under Secretary-General Konrad Osterwalder, said at an international wetlands conference in Brazil in 2008.
      Many water resources are no more and the few in existence have been reduced to gutters.
        It is evidently clear that some years to come; children would not know how pleasurable it is to bath in streams and dams, what rivers are, seasons, flowers and forests.
      Sometimes I wonder where I would get my drinking water from should the tap be closed for two weeks.
      The last time the tap was closed for three days at a residential area in Ho, Volta Regional Capital, it was hell for the elite who live there.
      These public officials and policy makers largely, living at the residential area who allow others to destroy the ecology had to fall on a stream few metres away for survival.
       Interestingly, some fetch from the stream in the morning and despise it believing that the tap would flow in the afternoon only to go back to the stream in the evening.

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