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Politics of Wednesday, 26 May 2021


Politics hampering galamsey fight – Eric Opoku

Eric Opoku, former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister Eric Opoku, former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister

Former Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku has cast doubts over the success of the Government’s fight against illegal mining in the country.

The canker has destroyed arable lands and heavily polluted several river bodies in the middle and southern belt of the country, thereby prompting the Akufo-Addo government to wage war against the illegal activities.

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, recently launched ‘Operation Halt II’ to clamp down on illegal miners whose activities are depleting forest reserves in the Ashanti, Central, Western and Eastern Regions.

Over seven (700) hundred excavators have been seized whilst over two hundred (200) changfan machines have also been destroyed in the aforementioned regions to deter other illegal miners from further damaging the environment.

Sharing his thoughts on Dwaboase on power FM, Eric Opoku who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South in the Ahafo Region was skeptical about the government’s approach to ending galamsey in the country.

“The galamsey is rampant because politics has crept into its fight..It is because of politics we can’t fight galamsey…Can you imagine that people go to do galamsey to destroy water bodies that are endangering the lives of Ghanaians who depend on the water, including you and me I and then Government says it is clamping down on them and they run leaving their heavy equipment behind, its just a matter of checks. The machines are registered, they have owners. Check the excavators and you’ll know the owners to arrest them and fine them,” Mr Opoku observed.

Adding his voice to the concerns raised by some Ghanaians about the burning of excavators as a way of fighting the canker, Mr Opoku suggested that the earth-moving equipment be seized and later be used in the reclamation of the land.

“Why are we burning excavators and not arresting the owners?,” he quizzed ” Even with this burning of excavators, why can’t we seize them and use them to reclaim the land? Today the soldiers are complaining because they say when they leave the site, the illegal miners return to continue the galamsey because you destroyed the equipment and did not arrest the culprits.”

In his estimation, “If we arrest and prosecute them [illegal miners], whether they are Ghanaians or Chinese, we can take some of their proceeds from the trade to treat the water for Ghanaians” adding “If you look at how they are fighting this galamsey, it won’t be successful.”

Asked by host Kwame Minkah why the fight is likely to fail, the MP said “Politics has entered the fight because of the involvement of politicians. In our part of the world, when a politician commits a crime, we seem to paint them with their party colours…when a police officer or military man goes to meet a politician being involved in galamsey, they refuse be unwavering and deal with them because they are also thinking about the future and how they won’t lose their jobs.”

He alleged that many politicians were the ones behind illegal mining and hence the fight may fail again, adding that the government lacks the political will to deal with the canker.