Government has directed the Ghana Armed Forces to patrol all water bodies and sites where illegal mining is taking place and remove all persons and logistics from such sites.
The order, issued by President Akufo-Addo yesterday, Wednesday April 28, took immediate effect and commenced from the River Pra in the Central Region with some 200 soldiers for the start.
The instruction to the Armed Forces, was for all persons involved in the illegal mining together with their logistics to be removed without any considerations or exemptions.
The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, issued a statement in Accra yesterday to make the general public aware of the directive: “in furtherance of the resolutions of the final communiqué, of the Stakeholder Dialogue on Small Scale Mining on April 14 -15, 2021 and to ensure that mining within water bodies is immediately stopped; the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has authorised the Ghana Armed Forces, to commence an operation, to remove all persons and logistics involved in mining from Ghana’s water bodies.
The statement continued: “The operation commenced at 0600 hours on Wednesday, April 28th, 2021 on the River Pra in the Central and Western regions of Ghana.
“Two Hundred (200) officers of the Ghana Armed Forces are involved in the operation.
“The Ministry of Defence and the Ghana Armed forces will provide a detailed brief of developments and sustainability efforts at 1200 hours on Friday 30th April 2021.”
President Akufo-Addo has in recent days publicly declared a renewed commitment to the fight against illegal small scale mining, commonly known as galamsey.
He had once said that he was prepared to put his presidency on the line if that is what he would have to sacrifice to stop the menace.
However that statement has not yielded the desired results as illegal mining is still booming across the country and the ripple effects are devastating.
“We are all witnesses to what has become of our major water bodies such as Brim, Pra, Ankobra. All these strategic water bodies have been polluted as a result of galamsey…It is my considered opinion that we need a deliberate effort and plan to eliminate the galamsey menace in our country”, Akufo-Addo said when he received the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin and his delegation at the Jubilee House last week.
The President said he is “committed to fighting it with a renewed energy in order for the people of Ghana to know that eliminating galamsey is a top priority”.
“We have to do everything possible to protect the water bodies and natural resources we inherited from our forebears so we can preserve them and bequeath them to the generations coming after us. If we do this deliberately, we stand the risk of losing all these priceless natural resources,” Nana Addo added
Speaking on the same subject matter on April 14, during the Consultative Dialogue on Small-Scale Mining, organized by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the President said he was “determined to enforce the laws on illegal mining no matter the subject, high or low. I will, however, not act on the basis of hearsay or mere allegations without more. I will not hesitate to act, though, where the evidence is hard before the Police, and I will do so irrespective of the standing of the person or persons involved. That is the true meaning of equality before the law,”
Whilst stressing that there is nothing wrong with mining, or trying to exploit the minerals the nation has been with, he explained that mining becomes problematic and dangerous, when methods employed pose a danger to the land, the water bodies, and the very lives of the people.
“Mining becomes a danger to the society when, after extracting the gold, diamond, or other stones and minerals, the land is left degraded and poisoned with toxic materials, the water bodies are turned into entities that can no longer support life, and plants and fish cannot survive in our rivers,” he added.
The holding of the national conversation on galamsey, he explained, was crucial because “we cannot have one part of the political divide campaigning for galamsey in the bush, and the other waging an official fight against galamsey in the open.”