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General News of Thursday, 6 April 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Ken Ashigbey slams MP over #StopGalamsey caution

The Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Kenneth Ashigbey has reacted to calls by the Member of Parliament for Manhyia North, Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah's for government to tread cautiously on plans to clamp down on illegal mining.

Mr Ashigbey, a member of the steering committee for the #StopGalamsey Movement, a coalition of media owners, managers, practitioners and civil society organisations canvassing actions to immediately ban illegal and surface mining in the country, says he disagrees with the MP’s call and said it was mind-boggling that a lawmaker would be advocating for an illegality to be condoned.

The #StopGalamsey Movement wants all forms of small scale mining banned for at least six months so as to help protect water bodies, Ghana's forests and farmlands and thus avert an impending water and environmental crisis.

It has consequently started a process to collect one million signatures to support a petition calling on the President, Parliament and the Judiciary to take action now.

Commenting on the move to stop illegal mining in Ghana in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Kumasi, Mr Owusu Amankwah said if care was not taken, an outright ban would lead to a higher unemployment rate than currently prevails.

He opined that there must be a clear distinction between illegal mining and artisanal or small scale mining and that those doing the right thing must be used as role models for others to emulate.

To him, there was a growing misconception among the populace about the activities of small-scale miners or artisanal mining which was legal and regularised as compared to the activities of illegal mining popularly called galamsey.

It was his view that, “we don’t have to throw away the baby with the bath water”, insisting that the sector has created lots of jobs for many unemployed people particularly in the rural areas and any move to abolish the system would lead to untold hardship on the people.

But responding to him, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, a leading member of the Ghana Media Project 2017 which is spearheading the #StopGalamsey campaign said they “respectfully disagree” with the MP.

“How can you confuse the argument by advocating that we should continue with an illegality that is polluting and destroying our environment, my worry is that you are not advocating for the legal small scale miners but an illegality,” Mr Ashigbey said.

To him, the lawmaker’s stance does not fly in the face of the oaths he took as a parliamentarian to uphold and protect the constitution and the laws of Ghana.

“We are no longer going to be passive about this fight. We will use all legal means at our disposal to fight any one who we believe is against the survival of our country Ghana. I wish to remind you of the message by OccupyGhana, that Galamsey is an illegality and should be treated as such.

"I am completely unsympathetic to the personal economic benefit argument made in support of Galamsey. It remains a crime. If that argument doesn't wash with armed robbery, it can't wash with Galamsey. The harm being caused to our land, water, flora and fauna is incalculable and unpardonable. Galamsey is a crime against humanity,” he said.

Mr Ashigbey said the MP's argument was not in the interest of his constituents and therefore urged him to change his mind and join the fight to liberate Ghana from illegal mining.