…Complete Ban On Mining In All River Beds
The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the Ghana Police Service are embarking on the biggest joint operations in the history of the nation as they undertake ‘Operation Halt 3’ to flush out illegal mining activities in the country.
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed BoamahAkwa, made this disclosure during a durbar for the 376-strong armed troops forming ‘Operation Halt 3,’ at the Bundase Training Camp, where they have concentrated, and preparing for the onslaught, beginning next week.
He assured them that the provision of adequate logistics has been made and that they would be well-fed, motivated until the problem is totally solved, hinting that special identification for both personnel and operation vehicles has already been made and they should be determined to succeed, as failure is not an option.
On the topical issue of seized equipment, although majority of the troops clamoured for their total destruction, the military leader exhibited a depth of tact to convince them that seized equipment will not return to their owners but be put to better use for the reclamation of destroyed lands, the response thus drawing huge applause.
Stating that there are other elements of the operation that borders on intelligence and could not be made public, the CDS urged the troops to exhibit thorough professionalism and operate within the confines of the rule of law, but apply sufficient minimum force where need be.
He concluded by ordering the conduct of daily muster parades for troops to ensure that they are in their best turnout, to demonstrate outstanding professionalism.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, who was in the company of security gurus, CDS, National Security Advisor to the President – Brig Gen Emmanuel Okyere (rtd) and the Director-General for Special Duties, Ghana Police Service, Commissioner of Police (COP), Mr. Christian Tetteh Yohuno, was there to assess the entire training program to address any challenges, before the deployment of the taskforce into the forests.
He said that the government of Ghana has decided to place an indefinite moratorium on any form of mining, 100 meters away from all river bodies and actual river beds across the country, for the purpose of trans-generational equity.
According to him, it has become necessary to stop the authorization for mining and prospecting activities since it is obvious that they do not conform to international best practices and that, the sustainability of the environment and human lives is not a priority in present day mining endeavours.
The taskforce is under the command of Colonel (Col) William Agyepong and is to revitalize the fight against illegal mining, hitherto widely known as “Galamsey” (to wit, gather-them-and-sell).
Buttressing his point by juxtaposing the cities of East London, Johannesburg (both in South Africa) and mining areas in Ghana – these areas all having commenced mining over 100 years ago – the minister said that the intended benefits of mining has been a clear mismatch.
He further intimated that the ‘Minamata Convention on Mercury’ in January 2013 – a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from adverse effects of the element in mining, bans mercury mining and Ghana is a signatory to it.
He went on to reveal that because the government has placed a temporary ban on small scale mining (which should only happen in a space of 25 acres and not beyond) and a complete ban on illegal mining, some unscrupulous folks have devised an outwit where they combine three 25 acres of mining area and present it as large scale mining areas in order to continue their galamsey activities.
Some miners, however, he additionally said, acquire large scale mining permit but eventually sublet them in small acreages to foreigners, who operate the illicit trade without caution to human life, forest reserve, the environment or farmlands.
He also cautioned the nation against the notion that the nefarious activity is almost over by saying that “little has been done so far and more remains to be done.”
Finally, he admonished that Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and many other countries at the United Nations, who are afflicted by similar phenomenon, have keen eyes on the successes of the taskforce and that in itself is a good thing which could create good avenues for members of the team in future.
A section of the taskforce later displayed drills in what they called Advance Rifle Marksmanship (ARM) and Crowd Control, to the admiration of all present.
Also present at the event were the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu Bio and Col Eric Aggrey-Quashie, Director of the Department of Public Relations, GAF, amongst many.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Kofi Ampeah-Woode