Govt is committed to ending ‘galamsey’ – W/R Minister

The Western Regional Minister,Dr.Kwaku Afriyie, addressing the Media

The Western Regional Minister,Dr.Kwaku Afriyie, addressing the Media

The Western Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, has reiterated government’s resolve to deal decisively with illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’ in the country.

Illegal mining, he noted, has dire consequence on the economy as cocoa farms in some parts of the country were giving way to galamsey, by the youth and their collaborators, including farmers.

He said that mining should not be done at least about 200 metres away from water bodies.

Dr Afriyie was speaking at a meeting in Sekondi with journalists on Friday, to highlight his plans, which included rebranding of the region, infrastructure development, promotion of peace, security and investment.

He noted that cocoa farmers, who were experiencing low production of the crop, were inviting the “galamseyers” to take over their farms.

Areas including Adabokrom and Bonsu Nkwanta were experiencing slump in cocoa production due to climate change, soil depletion, and ‘galamsey’, which according to him was destroying and polluting water bodies, with heavy metals like arsenic acids.

He mentioned  that measures to end ‘galamsey’, included the suspension of the issuance of licences to miners, development of a five–year multi-lateral mining integrated project to improve management of small scale mining, to  protect the environment and also to empower Ghanaians to  mine in a regulated and sustainable manner.

Dr Afriyie said others were to identify prospective areas for small scale mining, surveillance over water bodies using drones, the  establishment of a central  processing  plant  for gold processing, the introduction of medium scale licences where Ghanaians must own at least 52 per cent of concession.

Dr Afriyie said “galamsey operations in some parts of the region had destroyed water bodies, farmlands and the environment. The Central government  views the situation with grave concern. It has come out with measures to control the menace.”

On the creation of the new Western-North region, he disagreed that the policy would divide ethnic groups, explaining that it was purely an administrative matter.

The Regional Minister recalled that the Western Province, which comprised the Western and Central regions, was later divided for administrative purposes, saying that most people in the region were closer to others not by  geography, but by language.

He declared “Instead, the new region will speed up things, ours is unique; it’s about efficiency. The objective is not to bring division among the traditional authorities and the people in the region. The essence is to promote rapid development and progress. The modalities for the creation of the region will soon be out. I wish to assure the chiefs and the people that all stakeholders concerned with the exercise would be brought on board as soon as the programme takes off.”

The Western Region, Dr Afriyie noted, was endowed with  numerous natural resources  including gold, bauxite, rubber, manganese, coconut, timber, oil palm forest, wildlife and fisheries, natural gas and oil in commercial quantities, and  contributing  about 56 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

However, he said that the region’s road infrastructure was not in good condition, and affecting movement of passengers and goods from the hinterlands to the marketing centres.

The minister said that sufficient provision had been made  in the 2017  budget for construction and maintenance of roads in the region, including the Enchi-Dadieso stretch,  while GH¢580 million had been allocated to the railway sector for  the Kojokrom-Nsuta-Tarkwa rail line to be completed  by end of this year.

On security, Dr Afriyie said: without peace and security there can be no development. We will work hard to sustain peace. We should all contribute our quota. I urge chiefs not to engage in acts which could lead to the breach of peace in the region.”

From Clement Adzei Boye, Sekondi

 

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