Aggrieved miners’ associations and groups of people who have been negatively affected by the ban on certain mining activities have been cautioned against stampeding, obstructing or using unlawful means to prevent the national effort against galamsey.
This caution was give by the Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force against Illegal Mining and Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, at the official inauguration of the Task Force codenamed ‘Operation Vanguard.’
The Joint Task Force (JTF) of 400 security personnel, comprising the Military and the Police Service, will remain in the affected areas that they recover until degraded land and river bodies are restored and reafforestation program completed, he added.
Outlining the objectives of the JTF, the chairman also revealed that ‘Operation Vanguard’ has a mandate to put an end to all forms of illegal mining activities, and that another team, made up of personnel from the Ghana Navy and the Marine Unit of the Police Service, will take over the monitoring of water bodies when the areas have been rid of the illegal miners.
The minister, however, in urging all affected persons to employ dialogue approaches to their grievances, asked the JTF to be extremely professional in the performance of their duties.
Recent media publications have reported a group – Members of the Ashanti Regional Small Scale Miners Association – openly daring the government to release the anti-galamsey task force.
According to him, it is important to note that there are already, a number of security personnel in the hinterlands legitimately providing security services to certain mining firms and approved by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, due to threats to life, property and encroachment on mining concessions.
The JTF ‘Operation Vanguard,’ which is under the command of Colonel William Agyepong and his deputy, Chief Superintendent Abraham Acquaye, is composed of 10 special platoons and has undergone special and intensive training and been divided into three Forward Operational Bases (FOB), such as Ashanti, Eastern and Western, with separate appointments.
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), in his opening address to the gathering, urged the members of the JTF to go forth with courage and fortitude, with a clear conscience and work as a team with a selfless nationalist spirit, repeating to the team that ‘failure is not an option.’
The CDS went on to say that additional resources have been procured in terms of vehicle, tentage, distinctive clothing and medicals, to enhance operational effectiveness.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. David Asante-Apeatu, with an overview of the illegal mining phenomenon, said that galamsey has been identified as a threat to law and order and the sanctity of the environment and, therefore, urged communities in the operational areas of the JTF to be cooperative with them and go about their businesses freely.
Although overall budget allocation for the project (which includes reclamation and re-afforestation) has not been clarified officially, it is estimated that an amount of GH¢500million has been earmarked from Government of Ghana funds, for a projected period of one to two years.
It is estimated that over 5,000 excavators are scattered across the country, engaging in the illicit mining trade with careless abandon, thus destroying forest reserves, water bodies, farmlands, human habitations, potable water sources and leaving in their wake huge holes which unsuspected people fall in to their demise.
The inter-ministerial task force against illegal mining is composed of the ministries of Defence, Interior, Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Lands and Natural Resources, Sanitation and Water Resources, Local Government and Rural Development, Regional Re-organization and Environment, Science and Technology.
Also present at the inaugural ceremony for the JTF were all the sector ministers aforementioned, together with Members of Parliament, Service Chiefs, together with the Chief of Staff, Ghana Armed Forces, General Headquarters – Rear Admiral Moses Beick-Baffour and Director-General for Special Duties of the Police Service, Commissioner of Police (COP) Christian Tetteh Yohuno.
Source: Therepublicnewsonline.com/ Kofi Ampeah-Woode