Develop Obuasi, Tarkwa, Others Into Model Mining Cities
-Deputy Minister Advocates
A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, George Mireku Duker, is advocating that the state converts certain mining towns in the country into model cities, using proceeds from gold and other minerals to make such communities a tourist place.
Mr.Duker argues that, towns, such as Tarkwa and Obuasi, which are traditionally known as mining areas, can be developed as model cities in future, just as it is in South Africa and many other places where gold is mined.
He explained that this can be done by ensuring that portions of proceeds raised from gold are consciously put aside to develop these cities to show for the gold that is mined in such areas.
He said just as it is done for oil in the form of Petroleum Management Act, same can be done in future for gold, to track what is gotten from those resources and what they are used for.
“Now Goldfields has built 10, 000-seater capacity stadium for Tarkwa; if our roads are tarred completely, we have streetlights, we develop Tarkwa as model city, we develop Obuasi as a model city, it will not be a shame, as Ghanaians, to show we have gold and we have this to show,” he said.
The deputy minister, who was speaking on Accra-based UTV’s ‘Mpu Ne Mpu’ show, on Friday June 16, 2023, monitored by The Anchor, stressed that, conscious efforts must be made by successive governments to make this proposal a reality.
“We have to have conscious plan, that is why I was for the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) arrangement, because if you are able to refence the flow of revenue from gold then in future you can track and know that we got this from gold and this is what we used it for. If you recall, people were against the MIIF because they did not understand,” he said.
He continued, “In the past, when good money comes it’s added to the Consolidated Fund, and so we are unable to track what we used it for. It is not like the Petroleum Management Act, which we see what they use the funds for, but with gold, the Minerals Income Investment Fund, which they are now investing, I think, in future, we have to invest much into tangibles.”
Touching on the issue of the illegal mining menace, otherwise called ‘galamsey,’ the deputy minister, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Tarkwa Nsuaem in the Western Region, said that many have embraced the illegal mining business so much that, they have accepted it as a way of life and so any attempt to stop it, threats are issued to thwart it.
He advocated that Ghanaians embrace the call to see the fight as a collective work.
“So, the fight against galamsey is a collective effort of Ghanaians, not an individual. We must agree to fight it because if we keep blaming politicians, we will still be in this canker,” Mr.Mireku Duker said.
He recalled that, in the past, mining was not dangerous as it is today, but said now the use of machines and chemicals, coupled with other interests and the invasion of other foreigner nationals, and the use of excavators in the banned business require all hands to be on deck, to defeat this illegal activity that is destroying forests and river bodies.
He reiterated the fact that the fight cannot be left alone to either him, the sector minister or President Akufo-Addo alone, adding, it will take the collective interest of all Ghanaians.
Mr.Duker, saying he was not happy about the position taken by some people in government to downplay the introduction of river guards, body cameras and so on to protect river bodies, pointed out that the contrary position “makes the work difficult. If indeed we are responsible to manage illegal mining activities in Ghana, then they should allow us to do so.”
He explained, “Last time, I told you we need river guards to police river Pra, all the way into the ocean. Another school of thought within government is that when Operation Vanguard went on the field and extorted money from these miners, why do you commission another group to come and do this same thing for these river guards to extort money again?
“Maybe fair argument. But the question is, what have you done differently that Operation Vanguard didn’t do?”
He answered his own question, saying that various initiatives, including the wearing of body cameras, and setting up of situation rooms, have been introduced to monitor activities of illegal miners and also check these officers who may not do the work as directed, but try to extort money from the miners, as being alleged against Operation Vanguard. This, he thinks, can go along way in the fight against illegal mining, considering how elaborate and far reaching it is.
Asked who these people who are frustrating their work are, he resisted the temptation to mention names, except to say that some measures have been put in place to assess the two views and so in due course, he will come out.
“I will speak about it later. Because I am not happy as the deputy minister for mining, as far as the management of our river bodies is concerned. Their thinking might be right, but I think for now we have put in place committees to check these balances, what I am saying and what they are saying and it is not time to disclose this on air.
I have not condemned them. What I am saying is that they think Operation Vangaurd extorted money so why do you go and repeat [River Guards]? Give me two weeks to reconcile all this; so after two weeks, after reconciliation, we can discuss further,” he said.