Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, has blasted officials of the Minerals Commission for sitting aloof for the ‘galamsey’ menace to get to the height it has reached.
“You are part of this (galamsey) nonsense. How can you sit down and allow these people to do this to our lands and water bodies yet you can’t establish who or who mines here,” Mr Amewu fumed.
His disgust followed a visit to some galamsey sites at Subriso in the Akim West District where the identity of the companies which own those concessions were not readily known by officials of the Commission who escorted him on his trip, including the Chief Executive Officer , Toni Aubynn and the Chief Inspector of Mines, Obiri-Yeboah Twumasi.
Mr Amewu was also livid at the District Inspector of the Minerals Commission who was visibly drunk whiles on duty, directing that he was transferred to his office with immediate effect.
“How can such a person be responsible for monitoring? If you put people like this to work, there is no way you can expect any accuracy in terms of monitoring.
“We are asking that he immediately be transferred to Accra. He is going to work in my office,” Mr Amewu said.
The tour, which marked the end of a three-week ultimatum given to illegal miners to cease their activities or face the brunt of the state, was to ascertain the compliance of illegal miners.
Some of the districts Mr Amewu visited included Akim Oda, Akim West, Akim South, Denkyembuor and Atiwa districts.
According to him, government appointees, politicians and chiefs were equally to be blamed for doing little to stop the practice, allowing it to sprawl across the country.
“We must all take responsibility for allowing this (galamsey) nonsense,” he said.
At a particular site, the miners had destroyed large cocoa farm lands, diverted the course of the Suhyen River, the only source of water for the Subriso community and left behind gaping holes filled with water.
Though the miners were not available at the site, just like the others, their equipment including excavators, pipe holes, water pumping machines and others were on site.
Alarmed by the sheer size of the concession and the glaring devastation, the minister said “this cannot be a legal small scale mining site. We can’t allow this to continue.”
“You need to take responsibility for this (galamsey) nonsense because if you were doing your work (supervision) well there will be no illegal mining in Ghana,” he noted.
To him, the devastation caused by the illegal miners was as a result of the lack of supervision by the commission whose officials he said were complicit in the illegal activity.
His fear of political interference in the galamsey menace was confirmed when a man at Dwenase in the Denkyembuor District, Akwasi Asabre, who described himself as the Akwatia Constituency patron of the NPP with an excavator parked in his house said he returned to the illegal deal following the return of the NPP to power.
Mr Amewu cautioned him against the practice and said the government would deal with anyone, irrespective of political affiliation, ruthlessly should they return to mine illegally.
He said the government was not against mining but wants it done in an environmentally sustainable manner adding that the recently launched Multilateral Mining Implementation Project would be used to address mining excesses whiles creating jobs in the process.
Speaking with journalists at the end of the rounds, Mr Amewu said it was time the country took a decisive action to nib galamsey in the bud to protect “our environment.”
On the compliance of the 21-day ultimatum, Mr Amewu said over 500 excavators and over 1000 ‘galamsey floating platforms’ had been moved from the sites across the country and hoped they never returned because if they did, the consequence will be dire.
Government, he disclosed, will furnish district supervisors of the commission with motorcycles, employ more people to scale up the human resource base of the commission at the local level to ensure that they regularly patrolled galamsey sites so that the illegal miners do not return to continue with their unlawful activities.
From Julius Yao Petetsi, Subriso