The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has said that District Chief Executives (DCEs) and chiefs in areas where illegal mining (galamsey) has gained roots should be held responsible.
“District chief executives as chairpersons of the District Security Councils (DISECs) should be held directly responsible for the situation of illegal mining within their respective districts.
For chiefs in his domain who were engaged in the act, the Asantehene warned that he would deal with them when caught.
Delivering the keynote address at the first Regional Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining in Kumasi yesterday, the Asantehene said: “ I have already cautioned my chiefs and elders against participating in such illegalities and I would not hesitate to sanction them for any such happening”, he added. Otumfuo Osei Tutu said Asanteman was against anything that destroyed the environment and the ecosystem. He said illegal mining was unsustainable and unacceptable and as such must be stopped.
Regional dialogue The dialogue was a sequel to the national event held in Accra last month. The series seeks to find lasting solutions to the menace of illegal mining, which has impacted negatively on the country’s water bodies and forest reserves.
Monitoring Otumfuo Osei Tutu pointed out that district assemblies, through their district mining committee, had an important role to play in ensuring effective monitoring of small-scale mining activities. “To this end, district chief executives as chairpersons of the District Security Councils (DISECs) should be held directly responsible for the situation of illegal mining within their respective districts. “Greed, dishonesty and hypocrisy ought to be jettisoned in this crusade,” he stated. Allocation of concession Although chiefs were the custodians of the land, the Asantehene said regrettably they were hardly involved in the allocation of concessions to mining companies.
He said actively involving traditional authorities in the allocation of mining concessions “is absolutely imperative, for they continue to be the custodians of our communities across the country”. “We should go beyond paying lip service to our traditional authorities as custodians of our communal land and seriously and factitively engage them (chiefs) in this collective crusade,” he said.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu further stated that the current system where licences for concessions were given out before consulting traditional authorities was dysfunctional and must be revised. He queried: “Why doesn’t he (chief), who is the custodian of the land have the right to know who is doing what?”
Commending the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, for his commitment to the fight against illegal mining, Thea santehene urged all to support him to succeed. “I commend my son, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Honourable Samuel Abu Jinapor, for his eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of the goals of the ministry. Without doubt, this young man has shown passion and commitment to sanitise the sector. We have to give him maximum support so that he succeeds in this undertaking,” he said.
Consensus In his address, Mr Jinapor said the communique issued at the end of the maiden dialogue held in Accra called for a broad- based non-partisan and national consensus around a national policy on small-scale mining that “promotes a responsible, viable and environmentally sustainable industry which has discarded illegality and practices which compromise the environment and ecosystem of our country.” He said dealing with galamsey was a national emergency which required urgent and concerted effort. Outcome of consultation He said rising out of the first consultative dialogue, the government had begun implementing far-reaching policies to bring sanity into the industry.
The measures include a freeze on the issuance of forest entry permits by the Forestry Commission for the purposes of mining; the suspension of all prospecting, reconnaisance and or exploration activities in all forest reserves, and the designation of all forest reserves and water bodies as red zones.
The minister said chiefs had also been included in the licensing regime as part of the decentralisation process. Results Mr Jinapor said the measures had started yielding modest results “and we intend to enhance and perfect them.” Refreshingly, he said, reports coming in were that some rivers were beginning to recover.
Nevertheless, the minister noted that there was still more to do to bring the situation under total control Therefore, Mr Jinapor observed, there would be the need for the support and involvement of all the people. “Undoubtedly, this industry like that of the illicit drug trade, has so many tentacles with all kinds of people involved, with all kinds of methods, some overt and others covert,” he said.
That notwithstanding, Mr Jinapor said he would not waver in its resolve to “get on this national crusade without fear or favour, blind to partisan political colouration, blind to status in society and with an absolute dedication steeped in the highest sense of integrity.” “Together and with God on our side, we must and will preserve our environment,” he stated.