Soldiers destroy 9 excavators, 127 changfans in renewed galamsey fight
Soldiers deployed to clamp down on illegal mining along River Pra have destroyed nine excavators and seized 127 changfans in their first raid.
Personnel from the 200-man team from ‘Operation Halt’ embarked on the exercise as government injects fresh energy to tackle the menace.
Presenting a progress report of the exercise on Friday, April 30, the Minister for Defence Dominic Nitiwul warned that the military intends to take drastic measures against persons who return to the sites.
“Since the operation commenced on Wednesday, April 28 to Thursday, April 29, 2021, the troops have destroyed a good deal of equipment, including nine excavators, 127 changfans. The following items have been seized and would be destroyed except items used as exhibits in the court for prosecution.
“The items are 8×24 plate batteries, one pump action gun case, a generator, a Huawei phone, a chainsaw machine, eight raincoats, fuel filters, non-citizen Ghana cards, two drilling equipment, and two boots,” the minister said.
Going forward, Mr Nitiwul said the team would be patrolling and operating in galamsey endemic regions where major river bodies and forest reserves have been polluted.
There will be aerial patrols at places where the military has already visited.
Also, armed men would be authorised to take immediate action on anyone who returns to these river bodies to engage in galamsey activities.
Adding his voice, the Lands and Natural Resources Minister Samuel Abu Jinapor reiterated his commitment to the galamsey fight.
He said his ministry has set up a monitoring and evaluation desk to see the implementation of the latest ban on mining activities in the forest reserve and water bodies.
Also, the ministry has set up a call centre to receive reports on illegal mining activities from citizens nationwide.
Arrests so far
On April 29, two Chinese illegal miners were arrested at their rented residence at Ateiku in the Western Region.
The miners are said to have been operating a site in Patatwumso.
What necessitated the galamsey fight
Over the years, there have been growing public frustration over efforts to reclaim damaged environments.
Polluted water bodies like River Pra are still looking brownish with residues of cyanide.
Some areas of the country initially covered by thick vegetation have become bare.
The NPP government launched Operation Vanguard in 2017 to reclaim mining zones from environmental degradation caused by illegal mining.
President Nana Akufo-Addo made the fight against illegal mining one of the key objectives of his government.
“I have said it in the Cabinet, and perhaps this is the first time I am making this public, that I am prepared to put my Presidency on the line on this matter,” he said in 2017.
The government set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM).
A nationwide ban on small-scale mining and illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, followed.
After four years, the government is under pressure to highlight the positives following several scandals.
There is an increasing perception that politicians are neck-deep in illegal mining and are frustrating the fight.
Even the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining has not been free from scandals.
Its secretary, Charles Bissue, resigned after an undercover investigation implicated him.
The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service concluded in their report that Mr Bissue did not circumvent laid down processes.
This was after President Akufo-Addo called for a probe into the matter following a documentary by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.