Illegal Mining: EU boss backs burning of seized excavators
The Head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Ghana, Diana Acconcia, has backed government efforts in fighting illegal mining (galamsey) and sees nothing wrong with the burning of excavators.
According to her, it is better to burn equipment from illegal miners rather than having confiscated excavators disappear and be used for illegal activities again.
Commenting on the destruction of such equipment by a taskforce constituted by th government, Ms Acconcia said, “these excavators were burnt because they were performing illegal activities. So, I am not shocked by the fact that instruments of an illegal activity were seized and burnt.”
“I don’t see why there should be a scandal and yes, it is the livelihood of people, but they were illegal livelihood, and they were unsustainable livelihood,” she emphasised.
“So, if your livelihood is destroying the environment then what is going to be there for your children,” she quizzed.
For her, “it is better to burn them. I think a couple of years ago they disappeared…it’s better burning them than to be used for illegal mining.”
She emphasised that by engaging in the illegal acts, natural resources of the country are being destroyed, thereby jeopardising its usefulness by future generations.
She made these comments during an interview onAsaase radio in Accra on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
Fight against illegal mining
The government issued a directive to Operation Halt, a military task force assembled to burn all seized excavators found at illegal mining sites in the country.
This directive was faced with opposition from the Minority in Parliament and some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including OccupyGhana.
However, at a sod-cutting ceremony to commence a Law Village Project in Accra on Wednesday, May 26, President Nana Akufo defended the directive.
“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing exercise of ridding our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and, in some cases, harsh.
“I strongly disagree, and I would advise those who take a contrary view to go to court to vindicate their position if they so wish. That is what the rule of law is all about,” he said.
He challenged individuals against the methods deployed to clamp down the activities of illegal miners to seek redress in court.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Samuel Abu Jinapor has in recent times also justified the decision.
He was responding to a question by the MP for North Tongu Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who asked the minister the legal and policy justification for the burning of excavators in the ongoing fight against illegal mining.
In his response, the minister said that the action formed part of measures being taken to protect and safeguard the country’s environment for posterity in accordance with the sacred duty bestowed on the government by the framers of the Constitution under Article 36(9).
“I will respectfully but forcefully contend that there is ample legal justification for the conduct of the government in decommissioning or demobilisation of excavators and Changfang illegally used to destroy our environment,” he stated.
He noted that the use of heavy machines such as excavators for illegal mining near forest reserves and water bodies was an extraordinary problem that required extraordinary measures to deal with.