In the last two decades, illegal mining has become a thorn in the flesh of mother Ghana. The situation has become an albatross on the neck of successive governments.
Miningactivities can be traced since independence. The country can boast of its positive impact in the areas of employment, revenue generation and contribution to the local economy. However, mining activities in recent times have taken a paradigm shift: this time being a huge threat and a great disservice to humanity. Loss of fertile lands hence curtailing agricultural development, destruction of forest reserves and rendering water bodies unwholesome for man’s consumption have been the order of the day.
Reports from Ghana Water Company Limited over the last few years reveal millions of cedis are invested to provide clean and safe water for consumers. The current outlook makes it difficult to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Government in 2017 launched an attack to bring to halt all forms of illegal mining otherwise known as galamsey. This move was met with stiffer opposition by industry players citing varying reasons. While a section of the public believed it was a step in the right direction by government, others thought otherwise, especially duly-registered small scale miners.
A number of interventions were introduced to fight the peril; there was an inter-ministerial committee on illegal mining(IMCIM), procurement of drones worth $3m and a joint security task force called operation vanguard. Their operations in the early days chalked an appreciable level of success but later took a nosedive jeopardizing the earlier success.
Government in its second term has launched yet another move, “National Dialogue on Illegal Mining” to have a lasting solution to the menace, failing to account to Ghanaians the gains and losses and lessons from the first attack to clamp down activities of illegal mining. The lessons could be a guide to informing us on how to map-up strategically to fight the menace this time. Government could have served us better.
Being a citizen not a spectator, I demand a highly committed, dedicated, responsible and innovative leadership by the minister of lands and natural resources, Hon. Samuel Abu-Jinapor to fight illegal mining. “No one will be spared in the fight against illegal mining”, said Mr. Jinapor. The minister of lands and natural resources is obliged by the 1992 constitution and the oath of office during his swearing-in to “walk the talk”. He is, therefore, expected to without fear of favor walk his talk and show enough muscle in the remit of the law to fight the menace not lip-services. I expect Mr. Jinapor to eschew hesitation to bringing to book perpetrators irrespective of their political affiliation, position and financial puissance.
Finally, government should exhibit a stronger political will to fight illegal mining and resource institutions to ensure strict enforcement of existing laws that guide the sector. Policy reforms are vital to creating sustainable solution of this menace.
May God bless our homeland Ghana and make us great and strong.
(Executive Secretary, Save Ghana Foundation)