Destool Chiefs Who Flout Galamsey By-laws
A Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker,is courting the support of traditional authorities to rally behind government in the fight against illegal mining activities, to preserve the country’s water-bodies and forest reserves.
According to him, the fight against the menace requires everyone onboard, to be dealt with dispassionately; therefore, traditional authorities should begin to destool chiefs who may be complicit in flouting the bylaws against illegal mining, to serve as deterrent to others.
Mr. Duker noted that, it has become imperative to involve all, especially, traditional leaders in the fight against illegal mining, to ensure responsible mining in the country.
He charged traditional rulers, particularly the overlords, to be strict and ensure that their sub-chiefs abide by the laws at all time, and encourage vigilance and constant monitoring on the rivers that runs through their jurisdictions.
“Among all others, ensure that concessions under your jurisdiction are a 100 meters area from the rivers just as the law stipulates,” he stressed.
The Deputy Minister made these remarks when he addressed the Eastern Regional Security Council, (REGSEC), MMDAs and the 15 District Mining Committees on Thursday, August 25, 2022 at Koforidua.
He also cautioned the chiefs not to allow foreigners, particularly from the neighbouring countries to invade their communities and mine in the rivers, stressing that, they should ensure those who engage in mining in their communities, exercise due diligence.
According to him, as the law allows for citizen arrests, government will soon ensure that onlookers in mining communities, regardless of positions will be arrested for sitting still and allowing such atrocities to happen under their watch.
He pointed out that, the onus lies not only on central government, but also on stakeholders even as individuals to protect the waterbodies and help save Ghana’s future for posterity.
“If you protect the rivers in your community, you are not doing it for government, but for yourselves, your children and Ghana’s future; and so, let’s be emotional about this and solve this challenge dispassionately,” he stated.
Measures by Gov’ts
He outlines, efforts government has put in place to nip the menace in the bud.
“In a bid to end this canker, government has provided mercury-free mining equipment, 5 speed boats with navy personnel to constantly patrol the rivers, tracking devices with a control room to track excavators and other moving equipment are also in place, Operation Halt II is also being strictly enforced, among many other strategies government is embarking on to rid the country of this canker”
He called for a unified and strengthened effort to address this challenge, stressing that, political affiliations should not be considered in the efforts, saying, “Let’s[get] rid of this without any political colorization and protect our waterbodies with passion”.
Mr. Duker also charged the MMDAs and security agencies to arrest miners or mining companies that take advantage of Community Mining Schemes (CMS) to mine in communities that have the CMS inaugurated and operationalized.
Addressing some concerns raised by some of the MMDAs and Chiefs, the Deputy Minister in charge of Mines, assured the leaders that all their grievances have been duly noted and steps will be taken to mitigate them, while appealing for continued support and confidence in government.
He commended the stakeholders for their efforts and support so far, noting that government will recognize and award those who do the mining in the right way.
“Government is not against mining and I can’t emphasize this enough and because of this we have instituted the Small-Scale Mining Awards to endorse and encourage those who mine the right way and this year, somewhere in November we will do this again,” he indicated.
On his part, the Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Acheampong in his welcome address explained some devastating impact of illegal mining on the lives of the citizens and on the socio-economic activities of the country.
Mr. Acheampong told the gathering that if care is not taken, Ghana will soon lose it relevance in the field of trade as the use of mercury in the river bodies is having effect on various foods, mentioning cocoa as an example.
Most participants suggested that recalcitrant [persons] who are prosecuted should be made to serve prison sentence without interference from any quarters. This way, they believed, would serve as a good deterrent to perpetuators.
The traditional leaders also asked that the security services support them in their efforts by guaranteeing their protection as most of them receive death threats from these illegal miners.