Bulwark Intelligence

Ghana

CURATED OSINT, ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE, Ghana, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

2023 AKOSOMBO DAM SPILLAGE: A CASE STUDY FOR BUSINESSES

Introduction On 15 September 2023, the Akosombo Dam began a controlled spillage at 183,000 cfs/day due to the continued rise of the water level. This was reportedly increased on 9 October 2023. The Akosombo Dam – also known as the Volta Dam – is a hydroelectric dam on the Volta River in southeastern Ghana in the Akosombo gorge and part of the Volta River Authority (VRA). This is not the first time VRA has spilt water from the Akosombo Dam as similar exercises were conducted in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1991, the most recent being in 2010. The spillage exercise, described as a disaster mitigation plan, began at a very low rate with no significant impact on downstream communities until 10 October 2023, when 6 spillage gates were opened to increase the flow as water-inflow to the reservoir increased and levels approached the dam’s maximum capacity. Impacts The spillage caused the Volta River’s banks to flood, displacing residents in the Greater Accra, Volta and Eastern regions. Residents in North, Central, and South Tongu District assemblies, Asuogyaman, Shai Osudoku, and Ada district assemblies were left with power outages, submerged houses and destroyed properties. Some lagoons in the Ketae, basin overrun their banks, flooding Anlo and Keta district settlements. In the Eastern region, communities upstream including Kudikope as well as communities downstream such as Abume, Kpedzi and Dzidzorkope among others were affected by the floods. The spillage also had a terrible impact on locals who live along the Volta River downstream, with Mepe in the Volta region being the hardest hit. Initially, 8,000 people were reported to have been relocated across 8 towns, but by 19 October 2023, that number had already risen to 31,000. Overall, an estimated 39,333 Ghanaians in 192 communities have been affected by the floods. Moving Forward: Recommendations The spillage underscores the vulnerability of communities residing in close proximity to major dams and the pressing demand for comprehensive disaster management strategies. For businesses, operating in high-risk areas, it is crucial to glean insights from this disaster and proactively implement measures to minimize risks. Preparedness and Response: To respond effectively in times of crisis, companies should build thorough disaster preparedness plans in partnership with local authorities. Create communication mechanisms and relationships with emergency services to ensure a coordinated disaster response. Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Conduct regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and establish local mitigation solutions. Invest in flood barriers, pumps, and other flood-control measures to protect assets and people. Training and Awareness: Educate staff on how to manage crisis situations and raise knowledge of the significance of safety during floods and other natural disasters. Business Continuity Planning: Create and maintain solid business continuity strategies to guarantee that operations continue during and after a crisis. Consider supply chain resilience and diversification to reduce interruptions By adopting these recommendations, businesses can safeguard their interests and contribute to the resilience and well-being of the communities that bear the brunt of such disasters.  

CURATED OSINT, Ghana, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

THE UNENDING CONFLICT IN BAWKU MUNICIPALITY

Overview Ghana’s Bawku Municipality, located between latitudes 11.058430 and longitude 0.240889 in the northeastern region, has, in recent years, faced a disturbing recurrence of conflict. For decades, the two largest ethnic groups in the area, the Mamprusi and Kusasi, have been locked in a dispute over who should control the town’s chieftaincy. The escalation of this situation, which began in November 2021, has continued unabated. A key catalyst for this spike in tensions can be traced back to the enthronement of the new Bawku Naa-Ba (Chief) in Nalerigu in February 2023. The persistent conflict in Bawku poses multifaceted challenges to the region, with far-reaching implications to the nation. Peace serves as both a fundamental human entitlement and a catalyst for economic advancement, along with the attraction of foreign capital. Ghana, acknowledged historically for its political stability and societal concord, secured the prestigious position of the second most peaceful country in Africa in 2022, a recognition bestowed by the Global Peace Index (GPI). Nonetheless, the persistent turmoil in the Bawku Municipality poses a substantial challenge, endangering Ghana’s longstanding image of tranquility and security. Security Concerns Over the years, the Bawku Municipality has witnessed a disconcerting surge in a spectrum of security incidents, each posing significant challenges to the region’s stability and societal cohesion. These incidents encompass armed attacks carried out by unidentified groups, recurrent occurrences of armed robberies, communal clashes, instances of murder, the imposition of curfews, mass deployments of security forces, and an array of insecurity issues within the municipality. The amalgamation of security issues goes beyond being an isolated event; instead, it signifies an intricate network of interconnected elements. The consequences of these occurrences are beyond just disrupting the daily lives of the local populace, creating an atmosphere of discomfort and division within the community. These multifaceted security challenges can significantly impede both socio-economic progress and political stability, influencing not only the immediate boundaries of the municipality but also resonating throughout the country. Notable Incidents in 2023 The Bawku Municipality has been beset by a series of alarming security incidents, underscoring the gravity of the situation. On February 5th, the Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, revealed a sinister attempt to detonate an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) targeting a bridge within the municipality. This incident signaled an alarming escalation in the tactics employed by those perpetrating these security breaches. On July 18th, a deeply unsettling event transpired when armed individuals ambushed a commercial vehicle traveling from Bolga to Bawku. The assailants set the vehicle ablaze and left the vehicle’s driver dead. The passengers, though managing to escape, experienced severe injuries. This episode unfolded near Bazua market on the Bolga-Bawku Road, further underscoring the audacity and brazenness of such attacks. Yet another distressing incident was reported within the same municipality on October 24th. An armed attack occurred at a local drinking establishment near the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) in Zebilla, resulting in three casualties, one of whom tragically lost their life. This incident was marked by intermittent gunfire from the armed attackers, eventually leading to a face-off with security forces at a checkpoint. Subsequently, the aftermath of this encounter required the continuation of security operations in the surrounding area. Regrettably, the wave of violence has persisted, with a reported attack on National Security personnel along the Garu-Bawku Road as recently as October 24th. While precise casualty figures remain unconfirmed, it was reported that the assailants fired upon the bulletproof vehicle used by the security personnel, marking yet another alarming episode in the ongoing security crisis. Government’s Response A government-initiated program in 2014 , known as the “1-month amnesty” was established to address the proliferation of firearms and ammunition in the region. Under this initiative, residents of the Bawku Municipality were allowed to voluntarily exchange their firearms and ammunition for cash. This operation yielded some success, with a notable number of residents choosing to comply with the program. However, on July 17th, in direct reaction to a surge in violence marked by intense gunfire echoing across the vicinity, a significant deployment of security forces was observed within the Bawku Municipality. This included the presence of armed soldiers, armored vehicles, and pickup trucks equipped with mounted machine guns patrolling the streets. These measures were implemented with the primary objective of containing and mitigating the prevailing violence. Prior to that on May 5th, recognizing the urgent need for enhanced security, the government took a proactive step by deploying over 500 soldiers. This contingent comprised specialized units, such as special purpose investigation and intelligence teams, as well as crime combat teams. This deployment was intended to bolster security efforts and provide a robust response to the security challenges plaguing the municipality. Recommendations The imperative of ensuring the security and well-being of Bawku Municipality residents necessitates a range of strategic recommendations to tackle the current security challenges. These measures, rooted in community-oriented approaches and law enforcement enhancement, are outlined below: Fostering Community Engagement and Dialogue: Advocate for an environment of open and inclusive dialogue within the community to effectively identify and address grievances and disputes through peaceful channels. Encourage collaboration among local leaders, religious figures, and community members to facilitate reconciliation and conflict resolution processes. Strengthening Law Enforcement: Foster collaboration between law enforcement agencies to enhance intelligence-gathering capabilities and proactively police the region, thereby preventing security incidents. Amplifying Surveillance and Monitoring: Allocate resources to the acquisition of surveillance systems and technology, which can be employed to monitor critical areas and identify potential security threats. Institute an efficient reporting and response system to address security incidents promptly and effectively. Promoting Community Policing: Advocate for community policing programs that encourage collaboration between residents and law enforcement, thereby nurturing trust and facilitating the collection of vital local intelligence. Deploy community liaison officers who can bridge the gap between the police and the community, ensuring smoother communication and cooperation. Disarmament Initiatives: Continue and expand upon initiatives to incentivize residents to voluntarily surrender their firearms through amnesty programs. Implement stringent regulations and penalties for illegal possession of firearms, thereby

CRIME, CURATED OSINT, Ghana, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

ATTACKS ON BULLION VANS: A SECURITY ISSUE AFFECTING CASH TRANSPORTATION IN GHANA

Overview Last week, reports of a brazen daylight armed robbery attack on a bullion van at Ablekuma Fanmilk, a suburb of Accra in the Greater Accra region went viral across Ghana. The seemingly coordinated attack raises concerns about the security of transporting valuable assets- particularly for financial institutions, prioritizing the safety of police officers and the unregulated use of motorbikes which are often used to carry out these attacks. The Attack On the afternoon of 22nd June 2023, the bullion van made a stop at the Star Oil fuel station in Ablekuma to, supposedly collect cash. A gang of four robbers, riding motorcycles, intercepted the vehicle as it parked killing a police officer seated in the front passenger seat. A review of the CCTV footage, which has been circulating online, showed the attackers making away with two bags, presumably contained with money. In the aftermath of the incident, videos circulated widely on social media, capturing bystanders frantically assisting the injured officer out of the car however, he succumbed to his injuries. Responding to this distressing event, the Ghana Police Service declared a manhunt to apprehend the individuals responsible. Similar Robbery Attacks Over the past few years, there have been a string of robbery attacks on bullion vans across the country with a percentage of them resulting in the death or injury of police personnel. 4 attacks were recorded in the first half of 2021 alone. Here is a timeline of some incidents that garnered much media attention between 2021-2022.  January 2021- Robbers attacked a bullion van at Fomena in the Ashanti Region and carted away with GH¢500,000. The suspects killed a policeman during the attack. March 2021- Robbers attacked and assaulted the driver of a bullion van and stole money on Spintex Road in Accra. June 2021- Robbers opened fire on a bullion van at Adedenkpo, James Town, killing a police officer on escort duties and making away with an unspecified amount of money. A female bystander was also killed by a stray bullet, while the driver of the vehicle sustained injuries. June 2021- A bullion van was attacked at the Okyereko and Dominase section of the Winneba-Accra highway. Aside from the driver, the van was occupied by two policemen with an amount of ¢550,000 on board. February 2022- Police personnel foiled an attempted bullion van robbery at Industrial Area in Accra. Measures In light of the recent attack, the Association of Bullion Operators Ghana (ABOG) announced that effective 1st July 2023, there will be a complete cessation of the use of non-armoured vehicles for cash transportation purposes. But this isn’t the first time measures were taken in response to an such incident. Following the attack in June 2021, the Ghana Police Service expressed apprehension regarding the safety of its personnel. The concern stemmed from using inadequate bullion vans by banks to transport funds between locations. Mr James Oppong Boanuh, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), conveyed a strong warning, indicating the potential withdrawal of police escorts assigned to bullion vans if the banks failed to procure armoured bullion vans by the end of June 2021.  Recommendations These incidents show the difficulties that organizations and security companies face while transporting valuable items. These incidents often have severe repercussions ranging from financial loss to reputational harm and psychological distress to victims of the attacks. These implications show the need for proactive security measures and adaptive security techniques.   Route Planning and Risk Assessments: To reduce predictability, companies and security firms must regularly analyze and adjust transportation routes. A thorough risk assessment of criminal hotspots and potential ambush points should be examined.   Reinforced Physical Security: All bullion vehicles must be outfitted with cutting-edge security technologies such as surveillance cameras, panic buttons, and bulletproofing. Unauthorized access to assets can be avoided by using secure containers with many layers of security.   Trained Personnel: Security personnel should undergo extensive training programs involving defensive driving, situational awareness, and effective response to potential threats. Regular drills and simulations can help them become more prepared.   Liaising with Law Enforcement: Collaboration is essential among businesses and law enforcement agencies. Regular information sharing, combined training exercises, and intelligence-driven operations can all help to strengthen overall security. Conclusion In the financial sector, cash handling and transportation, commonly referred to as cash-in-transit (CIT), are crucial hence the recent robbery attack, as well as the other attacks that preceded it, highlights the risks involved in transporting valuable assets. It’s imperative for financial institutions and security companies to take a holistic approach to address these issues through route planning, reinforcing physical security measures, personnel training and liaising with law enforcement.  The incident also serves as a reminder for the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities. 

CORRUPTION, CRIME, Ghana, INTELLIGENCE, Reports, SECURITY THREATS

GALAMSEY: UNDERSTANDING GHANA’S ILLEGAL MINING MENACE

Gold contributes significantly to the economy as Ghana is one the largest producers of gold in Africa. Alternatively, small-scale mining is permitted by Ghana laws and serves as a source of income for many low-income households. Albeit illegal mining remains a national security issue. Illegal gold mining operations known as ‘Galamsey’ have been largely criticised by civil society groups and ordinary citizens across Ghana, particularly for their negative environmental impacts. The term ‘Galamsey’ is derived from the phrase “gather and sell” referring to the traditional method of mining for gold made by the first foreign big-scale miners The substances retrieved from the mines, which are believed to contain gold ore are often washed into water bodies, primarily rivers, thereby contaminating them. Mercury has also been identified as the main chemical used for gold extraction polluting the soil and water bodies such as the Birim, Ankobra, Pra, Densu, Offin and Bia. Exposure to Mercury is very harmful, especially to children, teenagers and pregnant women who often work and handle the liquid metal at galamsey sites. Additionally, Mercury poisoning affects people near these sites through drinking water and fish consumption leaving them with neurological disorders. The above factors threaten the constant water supply to communities in the Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Central regions and other parts of the country. The Ghana Water Company Ltd warned that it could shut down operations in areas affected by galamsey soon due to the high costs of treating the polluted water. The rising cost of processing potable water could also be passed down to consumers, through increased utility tariffs, although a large percentage of Ghanaians are already bearing the brunt of current harsh economic conditions.  Foreigners Over the years, there has been a surge in unregulated mining and this has been largely attributed to foreigners, mainly Chinese nationals. The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) indicated that over 1,600 Chinse nationals engaged in illegal mining were apprehended and repatriated between 2009 and August 2022. The rearrest of Aisha Huang, who has been labelled as a ‘galamsey queen, in September 2022 saw massive public outcry. There have also been several claims of some government officials, traditional authorities and politicians being complicit in this menace by shielding foreign and local miners in return for private payments. Ghanaians, both at home and abroad, have also shown their displeasure with this menace through protests and online campaigns while calling for a total ban on illegal mining activities.  Reports have also shown that increased armed robberies, violence, and other criminal activities are prevalent in some of these communities. In October 2022, two people were injured in a clash between illegal miners and a security team manning the concession of Anglogold Ashanti in the Obuasi East district. Recently, an individual was allegedly murdered by Chinese miners at Dompim in the Western Region working in a forest close to the Bonsa River. An increase in criminality linked to galamsey has also been captured in the Kwaebiberem Municipality in the Eastern Region. There are also some concerns that these security issues would create unstable environments, paving the way for violent extremism.  Government Policies Against Illegal Mining Activities In 2017, the current government initially declared ‘war’ on these illegal activities by implementing several interventions to fight illegal mining including setting up the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) to coordinate efforts aimed at sanitising the small-scale mining (SSM) sector however this was dissolved in 2021. Millions of Ghana cedis from both previous and incumbent administrations have been poured into various task forces and initiatives to curb these issues however these issues prevail. The government also adopted a military-style approach comprising the military and police, to curb this menace. A military contingent labelled Operation Vanguard, was deployed to mining communities to clamp down on illegal mining activities. Subsequently, the Operation Halt I and Operation Halt II teams were also deployed to focus on fighting galamsey in water bodies. In a 3-week operation carried out between 11-31 October 2022, the Operation Halt II team deployed by the Ghana Armed Forces seized 30, destroyed 4 and immobilised 4 excavators used for illegal mining in areas including Kade, Ofoase, Oda, Pra Anom along the banks of Rivers Birim, Pra, Yawkrom, Agroyesum and Takorase along the River Offin.  These approaches have failed to address the key fundamental issues in local communities, such as poor economic conditions and high youth unemployment rates. Notwithstanding, these activities contribute significantly to the rural economies of the communities through job creation which they are practised due to the lack of alternative jobs.   Disclaimer: Images are for descriptive purposes only. We do not own the rights to the images used in this article. Images are from Google.com.

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