President Akufo-Addo is not happy with the impression being created as though government and for that matter Ghanaians are deliberately trying to drive Chinese nationals out of the country.
Much as he admits that some of these Chinese, like many other foreign nationals are involved in all kinds of nefarious activities in the country, especially in the case of illegal mining (galamsey), he said there are others doing genuine businesses in the country.
He has, therefore, asked Ghanaians, the government and people of China not to consider the war against illegal mining in Ghana as a concerted effort to get rid of their nationals out of the country.
This was when the leadership of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey called on him at the Flagstaff House last Friday.
“This is not xenophobic trial; we are not going out for people because they are foreigners; we are no against Chinese…that’s not where we are,” he said.
Instead, he indicated that “we are trying to preserve the integrity of our own environment” insisting, “We have very good relations with the Chinese”.
In the light of this, President Akufo-Addo said, “We are seeking their support to be able also to have an impact on their nationals.”
For him, the campaign against illegal mining is a demonstration of how Ghanaians have decided to take the issue seriously since it is affecting their very livelihoods.
“We are not going to stop mining, but it is important that we do so in a manner which allows our environment to be sustained in the wake,” he pointed out.
President Akufo-Addo, thus, lauded the advocacy of the coalition, saying, “Once we have started, we have to see it to the end.”
His reason was that more often than not such campaigns fizzle out when challenges emerge.
“It is important that we stress that alternative livelihood, that part and parcel of this campaign is to be able to show (that) there is an alternative way of being able to earn a living which we need to advance,” he charged the coalition.
That, he said, was because “the implications of this are wide ranging.”
Even though he admitted to the fact that there are powerful and vested interest in the illegal mining, the president urged the leadership of the coalition to never give up.
On his part, leader of the media delegation and Managing Director (MD) of the Graphic Communications Group, Ken Ashigbey, commended government and the ministers for Lands and Information for their respective roles in the fight against the menace.
For him, the day that the President of the Republic would be able to take a calabash and drink from the now polluted Birim River would mean success for the campaign they have committed themselves to, saying, “We want galamsey to end as soon as possible.”
In that regard, he stressed the need for the vitality of the water bodies to be restored and for government to embark on a conscious effort at reclaiming all galamsey land sites whilst considering sustainable livelihood empowerment programmes for especially locals who are into illegal mining.
Mr Ashigbey, thus, tasked the media to intensify their investigations into the activities and operations of thee illegal miners to not only name and shame but to push for prosecution of such characters.
In the coming month, the coalition is planning to hold a town hall meeting in some of the galamsey affected areas, including Kyebi and Wassa Akropong, whilst taking an initiative to collect one million signatures to present to the Speaker of Parliament and Parliament as a body and the Chief Justice.
They expressed profound gratitude to the outgoing Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, for her decision to set up 14 specialised courts for speedy prosecution of cases involving illegal mining.