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General News of Thursday, 20 May 2021

Source: happyghana.com

Galamsey fight must be clearly defined - Environmentalist

Galamsey activities have marred the environment Galamsey activities have marred the environment

There are fears that Ghana’s renewed efforts to fight the menace of illegal mining (galamsey) might fail as there is the possibility of these ‘galamseyers’ overcoming the combined efforts of government and the citizenry.

Ghanaian environmentalist, Professor Edward Wiafe believes without a clearly designed strategy, Ghana’s galamsey fight will fail as it has in previous years.

“The war on galamsey is a big one and if proper care is not taken, these illegal miners will overcome the fight. If we want to fight and win the war on galamsey as a nation, then the government needs to design and implement a well-thought-out strategy. Galamsey started way back before colonization but we have allowed ourselves to suffer its dire consequences in recent times. Now the government has to be clear on whether we are fighting water pollution or mineral mining”, he stated.

Accordingly, he charged the government to define the galamsey fight. He shared, “If this fight is to protect our water bodies, we should create an agency that will be responsible for our water bodies. A typical example is the Odaw River in which no mining takes place but no one in the capital can drink from it”.

He indicated that with mineral mining not being a crime in Ghana, miners cannot be told to never mine again because their activities are destroying water bodies. With the appropriate technology being applied, Professor Wiafe argues mining can be done without miners washing into water bodies.

“If this is the case then, we can continue mining but with government guidelines. With these in place, miners themselves will start giving up persons and groups involved in the illegality so they work in peace”.

To him, mining is an honourable profession and he believes it will create employment opportunities and reduce poverty when regulated.

He made this known in an interview with Samuel Eshun on the Happy Morning show aired on HappyFM and e.TV Ghana.

Professor Wiafe who disagreed with the burning of excavators without prosecution of owners said, “What kind of message are we sending across if these machines are burnt and miners are allowed to walk freely about? If they are not prosecuted, the fight against the menace can possibly fail”.

In April this year, the Minister of Lands and Natural Directive issued the directive to cease all reconnaissance and prospecting activities in the forest reserves after a recent call by all stakeholders for government to rigidly apply sanctions on all those who break the law on small scale mining.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources decided to burn down excavators and equipment seized by security operatives as a measure to curb illegal mining in the country.

Prior to the burning of excavators, President Akufo-Addo ordered the deployment of about 200 soldiers to mining areas to clamp down on activities by illegal miners.

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