400 security men deployed to fight galamsey… in Eastern, Western, Ashanti regions

Some of the  troops deployed for the operations.Photo Michael Ayeh

Some of the troops deployed for the operations. Photo: Michael Ayeh

Government has intensified its fight against illegal mining (galamsey) with the deployment of the first batch of a national joint taskforce, to three most affected regions.
Code named “Operation Vanguard”, the taskforce comprises 400 security personnel drawn from the three services of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the Ghana Police Service (GPS).
The personnel have been deployed to the Eastern, Western and Ashanti regions while others are expected to be deployed to other affected parts of the country, in the course of the operation.
Speaking at the launch of the operation at Burma Camp in Accra yesterday, chairman of the Inter-ministerial taskforce on illegal mining and Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng said the operation would not be a “nine-day wonder”.

“This taskforce will remain in the affected areas until degraded land and rivers are restored and a re-afforestation programme undertaken,” he said, stressing President Nana Akufo-Addo’s resolve to clamp down on galamsey.
Prof. Boateng said another team, to be made up of personnel from the Ghana Navy and Marine officers would monitor the forests and river bodies until illegal mining activities were completely eradicated.

He cautioned a group of small scale miners in the Ashanti Region who dared the taskforce, last week, to reconsider its decisions and opt for a dialogue as government would not tolerate any attempt to impede the work of the taskforce.
He said the operation was to safeguard lives and properties for posterity and warned that “any attempt at impeding the work of the taskforce would be met with requisite force.”
The minister urged the public to note the distinction between the operation and other security personnel assigned to licensed mining sites under memorandum of understanding with the GAF.
He said the ministerial taskforce had held several consultative meetings with the various district assemblies and therefore called for public support to make the operation successful.
He charged members of the taskforce to exhibit high level of professionalism to uphold the rule of law and not allow themselves to be compromised as those who go contrary would be sanctioned.
Minister for Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul cautioned residents and groups not to dare the taskforce as they had the full support of government and would do everything to stop illegal mining in the country.
He said government was not against mining but rather the illegalities that had destroyed lands, rivers and forest.

Mr Ambrose Dery, Minister of the Interior, said President Akufo-Addo’s resolve to end galamsey was unwavering and while giving assurance that the work of the taskforce would be carried peacefully, he asked the taskforce to respect the right of residents and use reasonable force only when needed.
Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Obed Akwa charged the taskforce to work with fortitude, courage, work together with a national spirit as failure was not an option.

“With such an approach, I have no doubt the success of this operation, assuring them that additional logistics and resources had been procured including feeding, clothing, medicals, to enhance their operation.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr David Asante-Apeatu expressed worry over the destruction of natural resources due to galamsey as well as the increasing incidence of violence associated with it.
He charged the personnel to work hard to achieve their mandate as they cannot fail the country nor future generation, adding that the taskforce was not to intimidate residents of the galamsey communities but to ensure rule of law.
The joint taskforce commander is from the Army, Col. William Agyapong, whilst the deputy is an experienced senior police officer, Chief Supt Abraham Acquaye. They were trained at the Bondase training camp.
Present at the launch were the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu , Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid and other ministers and dignitaries.

The fight against illegal mining was scaled up this year by an ultimatum from the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Amewu to all illegal miners, following which he embarked on a nationwide tour to galamsey sites.
President Akufo-Addo in a show of commitment to end the menace, has put his presidency on the line.

 By Jonathan Donkor and Alberta Bissue

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