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Business News of Thursday, 25 February 2021

Source: Happy 98.9FM

Galamsey taskforce must consist of GRA officials – Small Scale Miners insist

Director of Finance for the Association of Small Scale Miners, Francis Opoku has advised government to pair officers from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) with the taskforce mandated to check the galamsey menace in the country.

On his accord, galamsey is a complex issue and has seen to the corruption of some noble members of the taskforce mandated to fight this illegality.

“The taskforce constituted to fight galamsey is not doing their job. Galamsey is a complex issue and now, we have powerful foreigners involved in the act and these people pay huge bribes to the taskforce, hampering the fight”, he revealed.

Suggesting a solution to the fight, Francis stated, “I have always suggested that soldiers go around with officers from the GRA when patrolling these galamsey sites. Because the soldiers sometimes take bribes and leave these illegal miners to continue their work.

But if the GRA is part of this taskforce, they can take spot fines from these illegal miners which will deter others from doing the same wrongs, making the situation better”.

The businessman admitted that the government has however withdrawn the taskforce from these mining sites but they, however, return when the situation surges. “When people go back to the forest reserves to mine and destroy the vegetation and pollute water bodies, the taskforce is always called back to intervene”.

Local anti-galamsey activists report collusion between district police and illegal miners. They suggest the police gain significant financial benefit from protecting or turning a blind eye to the industry. Many of the guns used by Chinese mining groups are also reportedly purchased from the police themselves.

In both 2006 and 2013, the government organized swoops on illegal gold miners. But while these raids resulted in the arrests of hundreds of miners, they only captured low-level workers who were easily replaceable and had no useful intelligence into broader operations.

In addition, the quick release of many of those detained has led to allegations of widespread police corruption. In one case in 2017, a Chinese national not only allegedly escaped from prison after being arrested, but soon had his car, which had been seized by police at the time of arrest, returned to him.

These factors have led to growing clamours for the government to properly tackle galamsey and punish those involved.

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