Hon. Isaac Adjei Mensah, Member of Parliament for Wassa East constituency in the Western Region, has exposed the government’s weakness in the fight against illegal mining, also known as galamsey, as the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources is not seized with the number of galamsey pitches or sites in the country.
Mr. Adjei Mensah, who is also a former Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, under the John Mahama-led National Democratic Congress(NDC) administration, posed a question before the minister last Thursday, wanting to know from the minister, how many galamsey sites across the country have so far been closed down and their regional locations.
According to the MP, the knowing the number of galamsey sites across the country would undoubtedly help in the fight against the menace, vis-a-vis the “Operation Vanguard” in some sites.
However, Mr. John Peter Amewu, the minister, told parliament the government (Ministry) do have the number and that the galamsey activities are widespread, covering most of the country.
“Mr. Speaker, galamsey activities are rather widespread, covering most of the country. The sheer numbers, areal span and the remoteness of those illegal operators which cause wanton destruction of the environment in terms of land degradation and pollution of rivers is a phenomena found in virtually all regions of the country,” he said.
The Lands and Natural Resources Minister it has been estimated that 4%of Ghana’s total land surface of 238,000 sq.km is highly degraded as a result of the galamsey menace, adding, “Mr. Speaker, there are thousands of such sites across the country, the following are the noted galamsey-prone areas.”
He mentioned Bolgatanga, Wa, Bole, Berekum, Bibiani, Asankragwa, Tarkwa, Dunkwa, Akwatia, Konongo, Tinga, Dormaa, Kenyase, Juaboso, Enchi, Wassa Akropong, Prestea, Daboase, Diaso, Manson-Nkwanta, Obuasi, Assin Fosu, Akim Oda, Kwabeng and Nkawie.
Nevertheless, Mr. Amewu said the government was mindful of the threat of these illegal mining activities to security and society at large, and is implementing a number of initiatives to minimize, if not completely stem the menace, explaining that, the sheer expanse of the activities has made and continues to make it difficult to document specific numbers.
“Mr. Speaker, it is in appreciation of this we put a six-month moratorium on all small-scale mining activities. This is to enable us streamline the activities and put in place a holistic framework to manage it. Within this framework, we expect that record-keeping and statistics will enable us more accurately estimate the number,” the Lands Minister told parliament.
He appointed out that, about 90% of heavy duty earthmoving machinery at galamsey sites have been evacuated, while 3,000 floating platforms have been destroyed and over 347 persons involved in illegal mining also been arrested and put before lawful courts.
The minister, who was fumbling with his answers, admitted that, though the number of pitches could not be quantum, the ministry, with the support from the Operation Vanguard team, is working hard to close all those known areas as the fight continues.
He said, the ministry is also engaging the leadership of the legitimate small-scale miners to take on board their views as new management structures is being put in place.
In addition to that, the minister said, “a complete restructuring of the Mineral Commission is taking place to ensure sustainability in the management of the mineral resources of the country.”
For future enforcement policies, Mr. Amewu said, the government is championing the holistic framework, the Multilateral Mining Integrated Programme (MMIP), which he noted is a combination of, “a Legislation Enforcement, Civil Integrated and Technological Approach (LECITA).”
He said, the LECITA would be “a sustainable and structured but regimented conjoint concept,” which would encompass multi-stakeholders in dealing with galamsey menace, stating that, the project is estimated to cost US$200 million, with the aim of sanitizing the small scale mining sector.
But Hon Adjei Mensah told The Republic that the government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has failed the nation in its ability to inform Ghanaians the number of galamsey sites identified in the country, describing it as “a reckless dereliction of duty.”
He told the paper that, government’s inability to locate all galamsey mining sites across the country, makes it impossible to win the fight against the menace and hinted at dragging the minister back to parliament to give a definite answer.
The Wassa East MP, who is also a member of the Roads and Transport Sub-Committee of parliament, said the government is rather fighting a losing battle if it failed to identify and close down galamsey sites across the country.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba