Several challenges have come in the way of the long-lasting fight against the widespread practice of illegal mining in the country, otherwise known as galamsey. This has then led to calls by stakeholders for the involvement of the security forces like the army and police, in the challenging galamsey fight.
On Tuesday, April 4, the Minister of Trade and Industry under the Mahama administration, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah called on law enforcement agencies across the country to come out in their numbers to support government’s efforts.
Dr Spio Garbrah who was speaking on Citi FM’s Point Blank, said that the intervention of armed forces have become necessary because the lives of Ghanians are deeply at stake. According to him, these security bodies should be involved as these galamsey operators now carry arms with which they fight back anyone who comes in their way.
How Bad Galamsey Has Gotten
According to the analysis given by Spio Garba on Point Blank, there are as many as 8,000 to 10,000 illegal miners on AngloGold’s concession alone.
Ghana has been on the receiving end of untold damages caused by the practice of galamsey which has become a major source of livelihood for persons living around mining communities. The menace has escalated to an almost uncontrollable situation, with the gross involvement of illegal Chinese miners over the years.
China nationals have grossly contributed to the destruction of Ghana’s environment through illegal mining. These Chinese galamsey operators said to be aided by cabals, throng mining communities with their drilling and processing equipment, in search of gold.
River bodies are not being spared by illegal miners. The wide-spread practice of small-scale mining mostly adopted by these illegal miners involves mining techniques that cause devastating pollution of rivers, streams and lakes. For instance, the Tano River which is the main source of water for more than 60 percent of the population of Brong Ahafo region, is gradually becoming history, as a result of illegal mining.
While the untold effects of galamsey on river bodies cannot be quantified; it is important to emphasize how this abuse goes further to jeopardize the health of the ordinary Ghanaian. The effects if illegal mining cannot be emphasized without having shed light on health hazards associated with the dangerous chemicals used by the miners to achieve their purpose.
Toxic chemicals such as mercury, that have long-term health implications on communities for generations, are released into these water bodies, making them very dangerous for consumption. According to the Ghana Health Service, mercury, which is a heavy metal and one of the chemicals used by illegal miners in their activities, has a dire effect on the health of humans, as it could cause the breakdown of the central nervous system. This is just one out of the very many dangerous heath hazards of illegal mining.
Why the Military should be involved in Galamsey fight
The Ghanaian government over the years have devised different strategies in a bid to tackle the menace of illegal mining, to no avail. This is where law enforcement or armed forces come in. This is because these illegal miners including the Chinese among them, have resorted to carrying arms including guns, to enable them fight back forces that try to stop them.
Last week, a certain young man said to be engaged in illegal mining, cautioned the President, Nana Akufo-Addo not to proceed with plans to clamp down on illegal mining. The man practically warned the Ghanaian government not to interfere in their business in the name of galamsey fight.
This goes to show that these miners are ready to do anything possible to resist government’s interference in their illicit business.
The Ghanaian Government in its bid to protect water bodies, had hinted at the possible use of drones, trackers and other modern technology to fight illegal mining.
Earlier in March 2017, the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu revealed government’s plans to plant trackers into earth-moving equipment used by illegal miners who operate inside forests to pollute water bodies.
But drones alone won’t do the job. This is why calls have been raised among stakeholders for a gross take over by armed forces in galamsey fight. Forces like the army and police are well equipped with ammunition that can shake the already balanced stamina of these illegal gold miners in the country.