Fight against galamsey: 87 River wardens deployed to protect water bodies

The first batch of 87 river wardens who have been trained to help police the country’s water bodies against illegal mining activities have passed out.

The 84 males and three females contingent received a one-month pre-deployment training in weapon handling, swimming, drills, combat and other survival skills that would help them to monitor galamsey activities along the Birim, Pra, Ankobra, Offin, Black Volta and other rivers that are hotspots for illegal mining activities.

They were trained by the Eastern Naval Command of the Ghana Navy in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission.

At the graduation ceremony in Accra yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mines, George Mireku Duker, said the deployment of the river wardens underscored the government’s determination to fight illegal mining across the country and build a responsible, viable and sustainable mining industry.

“The river wardens will be working closely with the Riverine Command of the Navy and Operation Halt II contingent from time to time to help stop the galamsey activities in water bodies,” he said.

He warned that there would be drastic action against all persons who were still involved in galamsey, in spite of the gamut of measures the government had rolled out to curb the menace.

“We have observed that there are still some recalcitrant nation wreckers who seek only their selfish interest at the expense of the national interest, by conniving with others, both locals and foreigners to outwit our security agencies to pollute these rivers.”

“We are also aware of others who have resorted to mining at night with armed guards when the security agencies are done with their operation. We will go for them,” Mr Duker stressed.

The deputy minister said all the 16 regional ministers and their Regional Security Councils (REGSECs) had been engaged to devise new strategies to deal with that challenge head-on.

Water pollution

Last year, the government declared war on river bodies as red zones for mining and suspended all reconnaissance, prospecting and exploration activities in forest reserves.

The government also placed a ban on the manufacture, fabrication and use of the floating device popularly known as Changfan, one of the main equipment used for the pollution of our river bodies.

The move was to stop the pollution of water bodies through illegal mining activities.

Despite the deployment of Operation Halt I and II, as well as procurement of speed boats to patrol the water bodies, galamsey still goes on in major rivers.

Be selfless

Mr Duker stated that it was in a bid to tighten the knot on illegal mining, particularly in rivers, that the decision had been taken to train river wardens to permanently monitor the activities of galamsey operators in water bodies.

He said the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry was in the process of procuring body cameras for the river wardens to facilitate their operations.

The deputy minister urged the river wardens to live above reproach by ensuring that they did not get involved in parochial interests while at work.

“The temptations of bribery, greed for money and many more are likely to sway off your purpose, but I urge you to put on the armour of patriotism, selflessness and integrity in the discharge of your duties,” Mr Duker said.

Support from Navy

For his part, the Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Naval Command, Commodore Emmanuel Ayesu Kwafo, said the navy would go all out to ensure that illegal mining activities in water bodies were weeded out.

He lamented the extent of destruction caused to rivers, noting that the development had far-reaching effects on human health and the environment.
Commodore Kwafo said the navy would continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission to clamp down on the menace and urged the wardens to put the skills they had acquired to good use.

“Water is life and anyone that disturbs the quality of water is an enemy of the state. Therefore, go out there and serve the nation with integrity. See yourselves as ambassadors for clean water,” he said.


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