If you tackled galamsey, drink from Birim River – Mahama tells Akufo- Addo

Former President John Dramani Mahama has said the government’s fight against  illegal mining (galamsey) has failed.

He alleged that small-scale mining is still taking place in some areas with prominent members of the governing New Patriotic Party actively involved.

He pointed out that rivers in most mining towns have seen increased contamination with worse levels of turbidity.

Mr Mahama, who is seeking a second term in office, argued that impurities and the quality of the rivers should have improved as an indicator of the good progress of the fight against illegal mining.

According to him, “If President Akufo-Addo says he has tackled galamsey, he should go to the Birim River with a cup to scoop some of the water and drink for Ghanaians to see”.

Mr Mahama said, “All he did was to remove Ghanaians who are not part of his group from business and seized their machines to be given to his party members to use for galamsey”.

“Go and check the Birim, Ankobra and other rivers. During the NDC tenure, River Birim was like Milo but now it looks like coffee. The river has become dirty. Now ministers and key party functionaries are all involved in galamsey. He is full of deceit and has lied to Ghanaians that he will end galamsey. If you have ended galamsey we should be able to drink water from the Birim River,” he said in an interview on Power FM.

The Birim River is one of the main tributaries of the Pra River in Ghana. It is located at the Akim District of the Eastern Region.

For Mr Mahama, he would rather institute a proper supervisory body to oversee galamsey activities rather than asking those involved to seize operations.

He said currently, the Lands Commission does not have the personnel to supervise small-scale mining. In view of that, the next NDC government would institute a Gold Board just like the Ghana Cocobod for the cocoa sector.

Graduates from the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) are to be employed as District Mining Officers to teach young people safe methods of mining not to engender lives and the environment. According to him, deforestation would be tackled by a land reclamation programme and galamsey pits would not be left uncovered after mining.

Illegal small-scale mining, known popularly as galamsey, has existed in Ghana for generations. The ban on it was first imposed in March 2017 after the NPP government took office and extended several times, despite opposition from small-scale miners.

Illegal mining operations were seen as causing environmental damage, pollution to water sources and conflict with local communities while depriving the government of royalties paid by legitimate operations – and thus undercutting operators following the law.

Formalising the sector and eliminating galamsey was a key part of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s political agenda. This resulted in the temporal ban on all forms of small-scale mining with an Inter-ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) constituted to look into the matter and propose solutions. A task force known as Operation Vanguard kicked in and culprits were arrested and their equipment including excavators seized.

Headed by the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the committee recommended in 2018, among other things the restoration of impacted water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits, continued formalisation and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.

Also, 3,000 small-scale miners were expected to complete training in sustainable mining and minerals processing practices at the University of Mines and Technology.

Other road maps included; the use of satellite images and drones to monitor mining activities and the use of a computer software application called GalamSTOP.

In June 2020, president Akufo-Addo launched the Community Mining Scheme to encourage responsible small-scale mining, in line with the Minerals and Mining Law.

The scheme is expected to create some 16,000 jobs.




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