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Opinions of Sunday, 13 May 2018

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

The unintended consequences of galamsey

If you type the words, “galamsey+pit +death into the Google search engine, you will get “About 39,200 results in 0.34 seconds!”

Among the first set of results you will find are:

#14 feared dead in Galamsey pit at Prestea –/2017/07/03/14;

#Video: Final year student drowns in ‘galamsey’ pit – Feb 23, 2018;

Feb 23, 2018 – A 20-year-old final year student of Osino Presbyteria Senior High School;

#2 dead, 11 others trapped in galamsey pit collapse – Jul 24, 2017;

#Nsuta galamsey pit covered – 22 feared dead underground Jul 8, 2017;

#More Deaths Recorded After Galamsey Pit Caved In Jul 4, 2017;

#PHOTOS: 4 dead, 15 trapped in galamsey pit Jul 24, 2017;

#W/R: 14 people feared dead in galamsey pit collapse – 2017/07/03;

#The wife of a blind man has died falling in a galamsey pit and

#Apr 27, 2017 – Patricia Morrison, seamstress, 35, died as she plunged into an illegal mining (galamsey) pit while driving a taxi cab.

The details of some of the disasters are extremely moving –

a “final year student” dies; (what would the parents who had spent so much money on his education, feel?); the wife of “a blind man”: (who would provide for the blind man, now that his wife had died?); a seamstress killed whilst driving “in a taxi cab” (a person cannot even travel safely from one part of his/her town to another?)

Now, a statistician would be able to tell you the frequency of these galamsey deaths, the social class from which the victims come; and the economic consequences of the accidents on the localities where they occur.

So one wonders whether the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) who passed a law legalising “small-scale mining” (PNDCL 218) in 1989, commissioned a study into the potential consequences of “small-scale mining”, before enacting the law?

The thing is that laws are social instruments of great power that can change the lives of people, even to the extent of causing their deaths. This applies whether the laws are enacted “in good faith” – or not. For the cold facts are that PNDCL 218 has been the cause of too many tragic incidents related to be overlooked. The PNDC presumably wanted to enable Ghanaians to benefit from the country’s mineral deposits, most of which had been monopolised in “concessions” granted to, foreign-owned companies.

But good intentions can bring a bad outcome. That is why laws must never be enacted as this can arise emotional response to situations.

Mining in all scales has long been recognised as one of the most destructive enterprises known to man. Strict regulations have been made to govern mining activities throughout the world. But the lust for profit has always caused a cat-and-mouse game to occur between nations and mining companies. Zambia; South Africa; Latin America; the Caribbean – examples of social and environmental devastation caused by mining, exist in the hundreds.

I am going to end this article with a story that encapsulates everything I have said in this article. There is a strong chance that the existence of the galamsey pits gave the alleged offender the idea that he could get away with his crime, by dumping the bodies of his victims in the galamsey pit.

Whatever you think, please accept the inescapable conclusion that emotional considerations about galamsey have been given a long enough rope in this country, and that it is an unmitigated, calamitous disaster that must be resolutely rooted out by all the good people who have the interest of Ghana and its people at heart.

Those who want to acquiesce in the destruction of the country – for selfish or political reasons or both – must not be allowed to pretend that 39,000 entries about galamsey accidents on Google have, somehow, nothing to do with galamsey!


Man Killed Lover And Son And Dumped Their Remains In Galamsey Pit

[By] Nana Appiah, Kumasi

The people of Manso Edubiaso in the Amansie West District of Ashanti were thrown into a melancholic mood on Wednesday [9 May 2018] when the body of a young woman, together with [that of] her four-year-old son, was found in an abandoned pit.

A group of young men contracted to enter the deep pit, (which had been abandoned by illegal miners several months ago) to bring out the corpses, came out unable to breathe well, due to the decomposing [state of the corpses]….

The group went there in the company of the District Chief Executive of the area …a team of policemen…and the suspected murderer, Kwame Tuffuor, also known as Kwame Brodo. [He] is suspected to have killed the young woman, who is very [well-known] in the town, due to her retarded mental state.

The 42-year-old man admitted during interrogation by the police that he [had been] having an amorous affair with the lady and got her pregnant. In order to forestall the shame he would encounter when the news broke out – and also to prevent the news from reaching his wife – he decided to kill the young woman and dump her [body] in the [galamsey pit].

When the two bodies were brought out, it was realized that the lady was naked, raising suspicions that he might have had sex with her, even in her dead state, before dumping her, tied strongly to her only son, in the pit.

But for the strong presence of the police, the youth of the area would have lynched him immediately, as they could not come to [terms] with the wickedness perpetrated by Kwame Brodo… He is [now] in police custody, [awaiting a court appearance].