Four alleged illegal miners are reported to have died under strange and mysterious circumstances at Akukuso, a village close to Kwabeng in the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region. According to reports, bodies of the four Kwabeng galamseyers were retrieved Sunday morning, 13th August 2017, from an abandoned mining pit in the area. An excavator believed to have been abandoned by the miners was also seen close to the scene.
The police who are still investigating the bizarre incident believe the Kwabeng galamseyers abandoned the excavator on sighting some personnel of the anti-illegal mining task force, Operation Vanguard.
The police confirming the incident in a statement released Sunday afternoonsaid:
“One yaw with three others was in charge of a low loader vehicle which was carting an excavator machine to extra gold mining concession at Akukuso near Kwabeng. That on reaching a section of the road…they were reported to have encountered personnel of the operation vanguard taskforce, so the operator and other occupants all abandoned the vehicle with the engine running but found no one on board and still could not be traced…”
The statement further revealed that a thorough search led to the discovery of the four in an abandoned mining pit in the area, with blood and foam oozing from their mouths and nostrils. The dead bodies, according to the police statement, were retrieved by divers and deposited at the Police Hospital.
Operation Vanguard Responds
The anti-galamsey task force, Operation Vanguard has expressly denied having a hand in the death of the four alleged Kwabeng galamseyers. Commanding Officer of Operation Vanguard, Colonel William Agyapong who spoke to Citi News on the unfortunate occurrence said he does “not know where the story is coming from”.
Making reference to other similar stories emanating recently on the killing of illegal miners, Colonel Agyapong suggested that the connection of the deaths to the task force’s operation is a fallacy and sheer propaganda. According to him, his checks with the patrol team that went to Akukuso on Sunday revealed that they did not record any activity there.
The Deceased NOT Galamseyers
A Unit Committee Member of the Atiwa District, Benjamin Morvey has indicated that the four alleged Kwabeng galamseyers are in reality not illegal miners. This he said while speaking to Citi News on the unfortunate incident.
Benjamin Morvey who revealed that one of the deceased was his colleague Unit Committee Member who works on low bed, maintained that the four deceased persons were not galamsey operators.
Mr. Morvey said there have been varying reports on what led to the death of the four . According to him, some reports connect the deaths to Operation Vanguard, while others suggest the excavator owner has a hand in it.
The Atiwa District Unit Committee Member also concurred to police reports that the low bed with which the excavator was being transported was found with its light and engine on, not far from were the dead bodies were discovered. He further disclosed that despite the ban on small scale mining, some of the illegal miners operate in the night.
The Galamsey Menace
Illegal mining has really taken a violent turn in recent times, both on the part of the government and on the part of the miners. On the part of the government, President Nana Akufo-Addo has vowed he must bring the illegal environment-threatening activity to a stop, even if it means being unseated in the next presidential elections. The newly dispatched anti-illegal mining task force, Operation Vanguard forms part of government’s means of achieving her determined goal.
On the other hand, the illegal miners have remained recalcitrant to government’s directives to them to quit operation. Recall that the Sunday before last [August 6], a group of illegal miners attacked personnel of the Operation Vanguard by opening fire and throwing stones at them. A counter attack from the task force eventually led to the death of one of the illegal miners.
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Also, the gruesome killing of Captain Maxwell Mahama, also has its roots strongly attached to the recent clampdown on illegal mining in the country.
Moreover, the very many jeopardy associated with illegal mining have also been on the rise within this period. Just within July, two mining pits collapsed, leaving over a score dead, and many others injured.
Ghanaians are hoping that the fight against the menace of illegal mining will be properly organised, to forestall further loss of lives both on the part of the fighters and that of those being fought against.