The Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Frimpong Boateng, has disclosed that hundreds of seized galamsey excavators have gone missing at the various assemblies.
The minister who spoke in an interview on Joy FM monitored by theghanareport.com denied figures attributed former Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John-Peter Amewu, that a total of 500 excavators were seized.
“That was not the case. We were told that 500 had been seized and given to the district assemblies. But later on, when we out to check, the figure was far less than that” he said.
When asked to state the actual figure, the minister said: “I cannot tell you exactly what but I can tell you it was far lower than the 500 put out”.
According to Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, though the excavators were seized and taken to the district assemblies, the heavy-duty machines disappeared later from the premises of the assemblies.
“That was the case in most of the areas so we sent people out there to talk to the district assemblies and we got Vanguard involved and most of them had disappeared” he revealed.
The Vanguard is in reference to ‘Operation Vanguard,’ the Taskforce, the government set up in 2017 to flush out illegal miners in galamsey hotspots.
Ban on galamsey
In recent times, there have been fresh agitations over the activities of illegal miners in the country ever since the Ghana Water Company Limited begun to raise red flags about the state of the Ankobrah River in the Western Region where the pollution is increasing the cost of water for consumption.
The activities of miners in some parts of the country have led to the destruction of several water bodies including the Pra, Densu and Offin rivers.
This led to a temporal ban on the activities of small-scale miners in March 2017 as part of efforts to sanitise the sector and cleanse the water bodies which serves millions of households in Ghana.
The two-year ban was, however, lifted on December 17, 2018. The minister for environment, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng during a ceremony to announce the unveiling of the ban said only registered and validated small scale miners would be allowed to mine in their designated concessions.
But this has been called into question again after some people were spotted busily engaging in illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, during an unannounced visit by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Kweku Asomah Cheremeh.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng attributed the ongoing activities of illegal miners to “indiscipline” on the part of Ghanaians.
“How can young people from any country descend on their town, go to the bush with metal detectors and detect superficial nuggets and start digging and nobody says anything in that town.
“And the police too will be there without doing anything and they expect the inter-ministerial committee and operation vanguard to move from their FOBs to these areas to do that. We must know we have a precious thing and we need to protect what is precious to us” he charged.
Influential persons engaged in illegal
There have been allegations against some influential persons who are believed to be the financiers of the illegal activities.
Convener of the Media Coalition against Galamsey, Ken Ashigbe called for the arrest and prosecution of such persons.
He believes the illegal miners at the site cannot afford to buy the heavy machines and equipment used for galamsey due to the cost involved in procuring such heavy-duty machinery.
The Commander of the Anti-Galamsey Taskforce, Operation Vanguard, Col. William Nii Nortey made a similar call.
They, however, called for investigations into the matter to fish out the supposed influential persons frustrating the success of the fight against galamsey.
Despite these calls being made, the minister for environment, science and technology, Prof. Frimpong Boateng said persons who make such allegations must provide proof to their claims.
He said investigations cannot be commenced based on allegations.
“We want facts. If you know that there is some big person behind something, let us know with proof and some documents. We want some element of proof that we can follow” he stressed.
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