Amidst the economic challenges Ghana is faced with, illegal mining, which has over the years been a headache for all successive governments, has prominently resurfaced more than ever. Observers say the level of impunity this illegal mining, also referred to as “galamsey” has reached in recent times is more alarming than ever. Once again, President Akufo Addo has engaged Chiefs in Ghana to help him and the entire nation address the problem of illegal mining in Ghana.
It was of utmost importance and so crucial to the government, that the President of the land put his presidency on the line in the course of this. Indeed, the NPP government has greatly suffered in uncertain terms in this regard. The odds have been against the President and his government as criticisms, allegations and in some cases, there have been verbal and physical attacks from galamsey operators on security personnel, as well as severe lambasting from very influential personalities who benefit directly or indirectly from the nefarious activities. The move was a bold one and was lauded, because it attempted at least, to put a halt to the rampant and unwarranted destruction of the nation’s ecology, including well-known and once useful river bodies by a few selfish individuals to the detriment of the majority. Several approaches to the fight have been employed by the government and the security agencies, but, the more the fight is intensified, the more the illegal activities are perpetrated.
This is because illegal mining in the country has become more sophisticated, technical, mechanical, dynamic and vibrant than it used to be.
The activities have metamorphosed into a security issue more than any other thing. It is threatening the very basic fiber of human life and the national economy. So much money and resources, not to mention time, have gone into the fight against galamsey in Ghana, but there is nothing to show by way of success. This important national fight against galamsey has been thwarted and jeopardized, primarily due to some negative tendencies. Some of these tendencies include politicization of the matter, alleged bribery of key personalities involved in illegal mining, direct or indirect involvement of leading government officials, other party members, chiefs and influential people in the country and the lack of commitment on the part of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Security Councils to work in tackling the problem head-on.
Regional Ministers in affected areas have also not helped in this matter. Why must the President be actively and directly involved in such a matter, that is right at the nose of his representatives? Does it not sound cogent when people accuse them of benefiting from this illegal and disastrous activity? One would question why the President has to travel to engage political leaders and chiefs to convince them to help halt such activities that are running down the economy of the country, indiscriminately destroying the nation’s environment and endangering the lives of Ghanaian citizens. Undue interference in the activities of the numerous task forces set up to fight the menace, by people in authority has made nonsense of the Government’s initiative to deploy a task force of 400 security personnel across the length and breadth of the country useless.
The arrest, prosecution or sentencing of offenders in illegal mining have not made any sense, because of the interest of people in positions to use such demeaning and damming activity to unduly enrich themselves. The burning of the hundreds of earth-moving machines that were found to have been used in the illegal mining activities has not helped in any way, as illegal miners continue to bribe their way through to perpetuate their activities. According to media reports, today, there are uncountable illegal settlements in many forest reserves communities across the country. Many more cocoa farmers are contemplating selling or have sold their farms to illegal miners for their nefarious activities.
The activities of illegal mining are a common enemy all Ghanaians must help defeat.
The progress of our country depends on all of us as citizens of Ghana to pull together to defeat this existential threat to our future.
We must understand and appreciate as a nation that the fight against illegal mining is a national battle and must precede all other interests, as this is the only way the fight can be won.
And this is a fight that must be won at all costs!