Fight Against Galamsey Hots Up; Govt Issues 7-Day Ultimatum For Registration of Excavators
The raging war against illegal mining in the country is far from over, as government, through the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to all owners, operators and users of excavators to register their equipment with immediate effect to avoid sanction.
Per the directive, the excavators are to be registered at the Metropolitan, Municipal or District Assemblies (MMDAs) in areas they are located across the country, beginning yesterday Monday October 24, up to close of business on Wednesday, 2nd November, 2022.
Weekends and statutory holidays are, however, excluded.
In a press release issued yesterday by the sector minister, Samuel A. Jinapor,he said,“An owner, operator and/or user of an excavator shall, at the time of registration, specify the purpose for which the excavator is being used or to be used and the area where the excavator is being used or will be used, as the case may be.”
The latest directive, according to Mr.Jinapor, is to help government determine which excavators are used in mining operations for the purposes of the L. I. 2404.
In the registration exercise, assemblies are required to record information, such as name and particulars of the owner of the excavator, date the excavator was brought into the country, the chassis number of the excavator and the purposes for which the excavator was brought into the country.
Others are, the area where the excavator is expected to be used, the name and particulars of the current operator and/or user of the excavator and any other particulars the MMDA may deem necessary.
The directive further warned that any excavator found at mining or other operational sites, not to have been registered in accordance with the directive, shall be confiscated.
“Any excavator not registered in accordance with this directive, whether found at a mining site or any other operational site or elsewhere, shall be seized and the necessary legal steps taken to confiscate same to the State,” Mr. Jinapor added.
It said the Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Dan Kwaku Botwe, has been formally notified of these measures, and has directed all MMDAs to ensure strict compliance with same.
The sector ministry therefore reassured the public that it will continue to take the necessary measures to protect the natural environment, particularly, water bodies, forests and lands, in a transparent and sustainable manner, anchored on integrity.
The decision to register excavators and ban chanfang follows the National Consultative Dialogue, held on 14th and 15th of April, 2021, where it was resolved by paragraph 13 of the Communique issued after the Conference, that “the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources will take appropriate steps, legislative and/or executive action, as the case may be, to give effect to the set of measures arising from this Dialogue and approved by government.”
It is argued that most of the devastation to water bodies and forests are caused by excavators used in illegal mining activities and Changfang.
It would be recalled that President Nana Akufo-Addo recently declared that it is now illegal to manufacture, distribute, or sell chanfangs, a machine used on rivers for illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey.’
“Distribution, manufacturing and sale of chanfangs are now illegal, as part of measures, we have increased significantly the level of sanctions against people who engage in galamsey.”
The president, who announced the ban in an interview during his recent three-day tour of the Eastern Region, said the move forms part of the measures by his government to clamp down on illegal mining, otherwise called ‘galamsey.’
He indicated that, “Surveyors have taken charge of impactful machines, excavators and chanfang and they are being destroyed because it is our major problem in our mining.”
According to him, government has increased, significantly, the level of sanctions against people who engage in galamsey, both locals and foreign nationals.
“Today, Ghanaians who get involved will get a 15-year minimum sentence if convicted and foreigners will get as long as 25-year imprisonment if convicted,” Akufo-Addo said in the interview.
The president said the government will continue to use advocacy tools to effect changes in mining communities, adding that “in a democratic dispensation, if you want a change, the first thing to do is advocacy to change public opinion.”
Nana Akufo-Addo said the fight against galamsey under ‘Operation Halt’ has been given a boost and will continue unabated.
“The problem was that we disengaged too quickly, once the first plot has gone through, this year we have decided to use the whole year to maintain Operation Halt, especially, the fight on our river bodies,” he said.
Although Ghana requires permits to mine on a small scale, it is estimated that about 70% of small-scale miners are unregistered and operate illegally. They are known locally as galamsey, meaning to “gather and sell.”
While illegal mining supports livelihoods, it has caused severe damage to the environment. It is blamed for destruction of farmlands and pollution of water bodies. It also denies the state revenue: an estimated US$2.3 billion in 2016, reports ‘The Conversation.’
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo has sent a stern signal that the kingpins behind illegal miningin the country will soon be arrested and prosecuted.
He said the government is committed to saving the environment and will continue to arrest more culprits in the galamsey menace to serve as a deterrent to others, who are polluting water bodies and destroying arable lands.
He said the laws will be strengthened and used to protect the environment.