thoughts of a native

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It is instructive that when as many as over one hundred and thirty young Ghanaians lost their lives recently, at Dunkwa-on-Offin, in yet another gold mining disaster, the owner of the gold mining pit was promptly arrested by the police. Yet, as is often the case in Ghana, the officials from the regulatory bodies, who failed in their duty to ensure that only gold mining companies that meet all the required international standards can operate in our country, were left free – no doubt to go on issuing permits to all manner of super-wealthy criminals who are driven by unfathomable greed: and many of whom are busy destroying our natural heritage, and endangering the lives of the thousands of young people who are forced by circumstances to slave in gold mining pits across Ghana, in order to earn a living. It is not surprising that today even emissaries of no less a personality than the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amotia Ofori Panin, the traditional ruler of Akim Abuakwa, are now being beaten up by the hirelings of those ruthless individuals, who are prepared to defy even the authority of the Ghanaian nation-state in their quest for gold – simply because they dared to try to halt the criminal activities of those sponsoring “galamsey” gold mining operations in that beautiful part of our nation: which has such potential as an eco-tourism destination for nature-lovers.

Apparently, those now in charge of Ghana’s national security are said to have adopted a pro-active strategy, designed to ensure the safety of the Republic: through a policy that is said to have “human security” at its core. Well, one certainly hopes that they do recognize the potential threat posed to our country, by the wealthy criminals who are using 32-tonne excavators to gang-rape both Mother Nature and Mother Ghana, in illegal gold mining operations across our country – and who are now demonstrating clearly that they can so easily evolve into the kind of monstrous war-lords who sent Liberia and Sierra Leone into the abyss: because they wanted unimpeded access to the natural resources of both those sister-nations' of ours. That is precisely why President Mills’ regime must ensure that those whose duty it is to prevent the illegal activities of companies like Solar Mining, actually do the work they are paid so handsomely for, by hard-pressed taxpayers of Ghana. That company, which is mining gold illegally at Akim Abuakwa Juaso, and causing environmental degradation on an apocalyptic scale, is destroying an area in the Eastern Region of Ghana that has been designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA),

Recently, The Daily Graphic carried a news report that stated that the “youth” in the area were appealing to the president to help Solar Mining obtain the necessary permits to enable the company carry on operating. Their so-called “appeal” to the president is an example of the perfidy of the clever individuals behind Solar Mining’s activities in Akim Abuakwa Juaso. Naturally, that rent-a-mob ensures that no one in the community dare speak out against the company’s illegal activities – which in a very real sense do amount to what actually is a crime against humanity. It is obvious that the sudden attempt to revive Kibi Goldfields, a company that has been insolvent for over a decade (and is still saddled with a mountain of debt to its creditors!), is simply a clever ruse designed to enable Solar Mining obtain what amounts to “legal cover” through the backdoor – so that it can carry on with its destructive activities with impunity. Significantly, Kibi Goldfields’ Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) document does not show any correspondence with the Forestry Commission – when part of the important Atiwa Range upland evergreen forest reserve actually lies in the concession granted the company. Sheer lunacy, is it not, dear reader, to destroy forests that are the source of sustainable wealth worth trillions of dollars in yet-to-be-discovered medicinal plants: for a mineral that offers no value to society once it is mined and exported?

The question that concerned environmental activists across the globe would like to ask officialdom in Ghana is: What genius at the Minerals Commission sat in Accra and delineated the borders of the company’s concession to encompass such an important forest reserve (which contains the headwaters of the three river systems on which over 80 percent of urban Ghana depends on for its drinking-water supply); and, at a time of global climate change, why should that be tolerated? Furthermore, why does the Forestry Commission not insist that no part of the Atiwa Range rain forest, should ever be included in the concession of any mining company, under any circumstances? Is it any wonder, dear reader, that whilst most nations around the globe are said to have so effectively combated illegal logging that there has been a worldwide drop of some 22 percent in such negative activities, in our homeland Ghana, on the other hand, the trend is in the opposite direction – despite the fact that on paper our country has some of the best forestry policies in the world? Why should taxpayers’ in the wealthy nations of the world, who are having to make enormous sacrifices in order to enable their governments’ fund climate-change mitigation projects in Africa (to lessen the negative impact of global warming in the continent), permit their governments’ to give Ghana any of such funds, if the state agencies tasked to protect the natural environment in our country, continue to be so lax in their work?

What is the point, dear reader, of setting up special climate-change units at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Forestry Commission (FC), if companies like Kibi Goldfields and Solar Mining can hoodwink officialdom with sleight-of-hand-tactics designed to enable Solar Mining literally reverse into the bankrupt Kibi Goldfields – and more or less obtain permits from the regulatory authorities that way: and continue with its perfidy with impunity? If President Mills does not want the delegates who attended the Copenhagen U.N. Climate Change Conference last December to conclude that he was merely paying lip-service to fighting global climate change in Ghana, when he delivered his conference speech, he must step in and personally make sure that EPA and FC officials go to Akim Abuakwa Juaso immediately to ascertain the true facts on the ground – and ask the Minerals Commission to quickly re-delineate the borders of Kibi Goldfields’ Akim Abuakwa concession: as a prelude to the process of taking the concession away from that bankrupt entity, as soon as it is practicable to do so. The very fact that the purported owner of Kibi Goldfields, Mr. Saka, has apparently been appointed as an ambassador to a foreign nation under this regime, makes it imperative for the government to ensure that the right thing is done in this shabby affair – lest environmental activists in the country to which he has been posted, begin picketing the Ghana Embassy there, to demand his immediate withdrawal. A word to the wise…

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