Professor Sam Afrane, Provost of the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said the social dimensions of the industry appeared to be completely missing with no clear-cut blue-print to deal with problems associated with the industry.
śMore often, many of the towns in oil drilling areas become dilapidated and face diverse challenges such as poor environmental surroundings, low level of education, bad roads and conflicts,ť he said.
He said a study conducted along oil rich coastal communities in the Western Region recently identified samples of high concentration of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and iron and oil and grease and in marine water which exceeded internationally accepted levels.
Added to these had been the reports of the death of whales, complaints about reduction in fish catch, increased sea traffic, collision of fishermen canoes with oil and gas production support vessels and flaring of gas.
Prof Afrane, addressing the opening of a conference on; śThe Social Dimensions of the Industryť in Kumasi, said it was important to put in place a Marine Pollution and Production and Exploration bills to bring sanity.
There should also be compensation for fishermen in the event of the lost of lives and property, he said.
The three-day conference, organised by the CASS, brought together policy-makers and planners, service providers and technocrats in the oil and gas industry to brainstorm on the way forward.
Prof Afrane said it was necessary that discussions at the highest political level did not concentrate only on technical and economic aspects of the industry but the social dimensions as well, to promote growth and sustainability.
Prof William Otoo Ellis, Vice-Chancellor of the KNUST, in a speech read for him, said given the immense contribution of the industry to the national economy, effective steps ought to be taken to tackle all the challenges, including job creation and improving the livelihood of the people in the affected communities.
This, he said, would help avoid conflicts borne out of local population dissatisfaction.