Has The Akufo-Addo Gov’t Been Successful In The Galamsey Fight?
Even though past administrations made efforts to clampdown on illegal mining commonly known as galamsey in Ghana, the Akufo Addo-led government seems to grapple with the phenomenon more owing to its widespread nature.
The President’s decision to ban illegal mining in Ghana was given verve with the establishment of Operation Vanguard task force and an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) . Both came into force in 2017 and aimed at dealing with all matters relating to illegal mining.
Again, the incumbent government mobilized stakeholders like Traditional Rulers, Municipal Chief Executives (MCEs), District Chief Executives (DCEs), Assemblymen and women as well as Opinion Leaders in Communities to join the war on the “galamsey” menace.
It is an open secret that not only Ghanaians are engaging in illegal mining in Ghana but there are foreign nationals particularly the Chinese dabbling in the activity. The developing story on Aisha Huang clearly indicates how persons in authority allow non-citizens and citizens to operate clandestinely/surreptitiously. The case concerning Aisha Huang who flouted the environmental laws of Ghana raises a lot of questions.
Which institution or persons granted her permission to enter Ghana to mine gold? President Akufo Addo and other aspirants for the top political job in Ghana may have the same vision of putting to an end the menace of “galamsey” but that could remain mere window dressing if they are unsupported from the base.
In the case about Aisha Huang known as “Kingpin” or “Galamsey queen”, she was arrested in 2017 but managed to “sneak out” of the country, averting prosecution. She recently resurfaced having re-entered Ghana incognito. Officials have distanced themselves on how she found passage to a country where she is declared wanted. They suspect entry from unmanned routes along land borders. Aisha Huang is reported to be a woman with good feathers, in a flamboyant lifestyle allegedly fended by mining.
The Fourth Estate of the Realm reported that only two Chinese citizens are in Ghana’s prisons despite hundreds arrested for illegal mining, and this highlights gaps in the whole process of law enforcement.
Since the issue of illegal small-scale mining became topical in Ghana, there have been allegations with regard to the recruitment of vulnerable young men to engage in unlawful acts, and the connivance of high-level officials is cited as well.
A flashback to May 31, 2018. In this instance, three military personnel said to be members of Operation Vanguard were arrested at Wassa Akropong in the Western Region. They were deemed complicit in the crime, having been caught red-handed with unrefined gold.
Although the issue of illegal small scale mining is a national issue which needs to be tackled by all, it appears politicized.
The rate at which most lands, water bodies and plants have been destroyed as a result of this unlawful act take concerns to dizzying heights. Many innocent people have lost their lives. They were trapped in pits abandoned by illegal miners.
Sample of a water body destroyed by illegal activities
On the surface, all governments appear to be working hard to ensure that illegal small-scale mining is eliminated in Ghana. Those efforts begin to look as murky as muddied galamsey sites, given the undercurrents which have shaped the back-and-forth narrative on the theme.
There were instances where retrieved excavators went missing in Police custody. Recently, two excavators that were seized by the District Chief Executive of Ellembelle, Kwesi Bonzo also went missing under similar circumstances.
The report about 500 excavators that disappeared also raised the eyebrows of many Ghanaians and now, a majority concedes that the government might be shelving illegal miners.
Role Of Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) In Fighting the Menace
The purpose for instituting the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) failed after the main Secretary, Charles Cromwell Nanabanyin Onuawonto Bissue resigned his position after an exposé by the ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas allegedly captured him on tape in a compromising situation. In one scene, he was found inducing someone to fast-track documentation for an alleged mining company.
However, some persons who work with the IMCIM as well as security personnel were also caught in the Anas documentary taking bribes to facilitate illegal mining.
Son of former Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng was also accused of engaging in galamsey .
The government is still pursuing measures to curb the malpractice but if the people of Ghana especially the influential ones do not put their shoulders to the wheel in support of the national cause, combat against galamsey will be in vain.