At least twenty excavators and many other mining equipments have been set on fire by the military task force set up by the government to crack down on illegal mining in the Eastern Region.
Eight out of the number of the excavators and one bulldozer destroyed allegedly belong to the National Women’s Organizer of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kate Gyamfua.
The taskforce on Sunday raided some mining sites in Larbikrom, Dompem and Pamen all in the Atiwa district. The dozer had been hired to reclaim degraded acres of land, but was not spared by the taskforce.
The task force spent several hours at the mining site of the women’s leader after receiving calls from various quarters. However, they eventually set fire into the machines.
The team, according to some persons who claim to work on the site of the NPP women’s organizer, beat up some of the workers and took away some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages kept in a fridge.
At Akyem Larbikrom and Dompem, four excavators, including brand new ones each valued at $120,000 were set ablaze. Dozens of water pumping machines were all destroyed.
The team allegedly took away pump action guns used by private security officers tasked to protect the mining sites.
The secretary to Kate Gyamfua’s mining firm, Nana Asante, expressed disappointment in government.
According to him, the task force could have considered the contributions of Kate Gyamfua to the party and retreated on its actions.
He also added that they had adhered to all the mining laws, including reclamation of degraded lands.
“We have started reclaiming the lands and planted cassava on them. We have never touched any river, we have rather dug dams and using the water for washing. We haven’t broken any law, so we are at a loss why they could come and destroy her machines,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, a member of the Small scale miners association in the Eastern region, Alhaji Hussein Suronim, condemned the action of the military task force. He stated that some of the affected people are not illegal miners, but licensed small scale miners who adhered to all the mining regulations.