The Minister of Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, has hinted that government would soon start using drones and other modern technology to fight illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey in Ghana, to ensure the protection of water bodies.
Mr. John Peter Amewu made this disclosure during a visit to the AngloGold Ashanti Mine (AGA) at Obuasi on Friday, 11th March, 2017. According to him, government is instructing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to plant trackers into earth moving equipment which are used by illegal miners who operate inside the forests to pollute water bodies in the country.
The Lands and Forestry Minister noted that according to research findings available to him, about 40 to 60 percent of earth moving equipment brought into Ghana for construction purposes are not put to use on the roads but rather used in deep forests to dig into water bodies.
The tracking devices which the government intends to attach to the equipment will therefore help to detect the operation spots of these illegal miners.
Mr. Amewu also said that talks are being held to engage drone companies in the fight against pollution of water bodies. He indicated that they are going to use one river body as a sample to see how drones, alongside police monitoring, could be used to fish out those engaging in galamsey.
The disturbed minister stated point blank that “Mining in the river bodies cannot continue; it is criminal, cruel and wicked.”
More on the Menace of Galamsey in Ghana
The issue of illegal mining referred to as galamsey in Ghanaian parlance is no longer news. But the aspect of this environmental abuse which must have to register into the heads of citizens is the looming environmental hazards associated with the act.
The widespread practice has led to massive degradation of lands and pollution of many river bodies in Ghana, making it almost impossible for the Ghana Water Company Limited to get water for treatment and supply to the people.
It is no news that River Birem, the iconic river of the Akyem ethnic group has since been degraded into a slow moving sludge by illegal gold mining. The damage has also extended to other rivers in the area where its waters have been grossly polluted or poisoned with cyanide and mercury, converting it into greenish brown waste water. Reports also reveal that water plants such as the Kyebi Water treatment plant and the Abessim water treatment plant in the Brong-Ahafo Region have been shut down as a result of pollution brought about by galamsey.
Worse still, the life threatening consequences of galamsey are extending to farm lands where cocoa farms, oil palm plantations, as well as other cash and food crops are being totally damaged. Click here to find out more about the looming consequences of galamsey in Ghana.
Ultimately, researchers and environmentalists have warned that if nothing significant is done to curb the problem in no distant time, Ghana may end up importing portable water. Yes, it’s going as bad as that!