Calls to stop galamsey in Ghana, has been on a very high increase in recent times, with some of the agitations tagged stop galamsey now, anti-galamsey campaign, and things like that.
Of course, the need for something to be done about the environmental menace of illegal, has become so glaring, as residents in different parts of Ghana are already feeling the dire consequences; ranging from dried and muddy water bodies, to polluted farmlands.
But we will not easily throw away the fact that this is not the first time clamouring calls have been made, both by the government and the Ghanaian populace, for galamsey to be put to a stop. For the past two decades, the illegal business which is drastically undermining the health of Ghana’s environment as well as its residents, have continued to spread and grow without bounds.
However, this time around, it appears that the Akufo-Addo led administration, coupled with so many other concerned individuals and bodies are very serious to see that the problem is solved once and for all. Civil rights groups and the media are not left out, with Citi Fm’s StopGalamseyNow Campaign being a typical example.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources have also revealed plans to use drones and other modern technology such as tracking devices, to detect the perpetrators who operate in deep forests in various parts of the country. The ministry have also suspended licences for small-scale mining – all in an attempt to properly place a clamp down on illegal mining activities across the country.
Moreover, armed forces in form of task force, military personnel, the police and other security agents are currently being used to nab defaulters. So far, numerous persons including some Chinese citizens have been arrested. Fine!
But the big question that has been looming over all these moves to stop galamsey remains; how will illegal mining be stopped when the people who are being used in the fight against it are at the same time “deeply involved” in the business? When they are the masterminds, how will they catch and prosecute the miners? Can a farmer actually employ goats to guard his yam barn???
Speaking on Citi Eyewitnesses News on Tuesday 4th April, former Member of Parliament for Kade Constituency in the Eastern Region, Ofosu Asamoah stated categorically that some police officers, Members of Parliament and chiefs are deeply involved in illegal mining in Ghana. According to him, their deep involvement in the illegal activity is watering down the strict enforcement of the law to deal with the problem.
Mr. Asamoah said that governments strategy of using military and police force to fight the problem is not the best, as they are all involved in the occupation. He revealed that it is actually police and military personnel that serve as escorts to the the illegal miners, especially the Chinese when they transport the gold from Amansie in the Western Region where it is mined, to Accra.
“They escort them. There are police officers who are deeply involved… Politicians are involved, you have Ministers, you have Members of Parliament involved and the Chiefs; they are the worst…,” he stressed.
The former Mp’s assertions will not be disputed, especially while recalling the incident that took place in January, at a galamsey site near Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region, where two police men where almost beaten to death for for escorting gold robbers.
Continuing, Mr. Ofosu Asamoah said that locals must be made to spearhead the fight to stop galamsey. According to him, the complicated nature of the illegal occupation does not make it reasonable to use military force. He advised that natives must first be sensitized on the drastic effects of illegal mining to enable them understand the need to rise against it, and then to actually stop illegal mining activities around them.
“To stop this galamsey, the first people to lead it is the people; The chiefs and then government supports. This battle should not be a government led approach,” Mr. Asamoah pointed out.
This is really not the first time fingers are being pointed at highly placed people, including personnel of various security agencies in Ghana, as masterminds of illegal mining. Although Ghana’s laws are clear on illegal mining, the regulations have not helped to put the problem to a stop.
President Akufo-Addo has therefore said that his government is working to develop policies that will deal with galamsey once and for all. Ghanaians are just hoping that the policies when they materialize, will have no immunity for government or public servants who are involved in the environmentally hazardous business.