Following the closure of their facility at Kuntunse in the Ga West Municipality on Saturday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has now directed the Happy Sunshine Tomato Company managed by Chinese expatriates to relocate from the area.
The EPA shut down the facility after a series of Citi News reports had revealed that the company was operating illegally in the residential area.A notice of closure has been posted on the doors and walls of the factory after officials of the EPA, accompanied by the police went to the premises.
The Agency had earlier held a closed-door meeting between management of the factory where the company was directed to move its operations to an industrial area, as their current location has not been zoned for such activities.
The Principal Programmes Officer at the Accra Regional office of the EPA, Sophia Vanderpuye, who confirmed the directive to Citi News on Tuesday, said: “At the meeting, it was made very clear to them that the site where they are operating is not appropriate for the kind of manufacturing activity that is going on there is wrong. We had got evidence of the thick smoke that was emanating from their chimneys into the atmosphere, and with the accompanying noise issues. Based on these, they were made to understand that the EPA cannot permit such an activity in a predominately residential area so they have to relocate.”
“They must find an appropriate location, most preferably, an industrial area where they can conveniently produce. The Assemblies have already zoned the areas.”
The tomato factory, which belongs to some Chinese expatriates, was fined GHc 15,000 by the EPA in August 2017 for operating illegally, whilst the company was also ordered to halt any form of production.
However, the management of the factory violated the order and resumed full production in November.
Residents at Korleman City, an estate at Kuntunse in the Ga West Municipality, where the Chinese factory operates, had raised concerns about how the activities of the company were affecting them.
They complained about the possible long-term health hazards, following the improper disposal of waste by operators of the factory.
A few of the residents who spoke to Citi News after the closure of the facility expressed their joy at the turn of events.
“Everything is normal, there’s no smell, there’s no smoke and we’re all feeling very happy to see that they are closed,” one of the residents said.
Another resident said that even the workers of the company were delighted at the closure, as they had expressed concerns about the quality of fuel they were using, which had accounted for the thick plumes of smoke which was causing the locals a lot of discomfort.
“Since Monday they haven’t operated again. It’s good, if they are going to stop or do something about the smoke it will be good because even their workers are stating that they are really happy because the fuel they were using was dirty which is very cheap. That is causing all the smoke,” the resident said.
By: Naa Kwaamah Siaw-Marfo & Edwin Kwakofi/citifmonline.com/Ghana