Five speed boats procured by government to aid in the fight against illegal mining were yesterday deployed on some river bodies to clamp down on illegal mining activities polluting the water.
The river bodies include Ankobra, Pra, Birim and Black Volta.
According to Minister of Land and Natural Resources, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, the boats would be used by the security agencies to patrol the river bodies for a 24 hour period.
Inaugurating the speed boats yesterday at Beposo in the Shama District, he said, the deployment of the equipment would complement the activities of “Operation Halt II” to remove illegal miners from water bodies.
He explained that the new measures by the government had been necessitated by some recalcitrants engaging in illegal mining by conniving with both locals and foreigners, to outwit our security agencies to pollute the rivers.
“Indeed, there are some who have resorted to mining in the night with armed guards, when the security agencies have finished their operation. We have engaged all the sixteen Regional Ministers and their Regional Security Councils, to take these matters up and deal with them upfront,” the minister added.
Earlier, he noted that the government, as part of efforts to promote sustainable small scale mining, revamped the Community Mining Scheme and developed an Operational Manual to set standards for their operation.
Mr Jinapor added that so far, a total of 34 of the schemes had been inaugurated since last year, with an additional 11 ready to be inaugurated in the coming days.
He said the government further introduced a National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP), which includes reclamation, afforestation and reforestation as a substitute to illegal mining.
Additionally, 100 mercury-free gold processing equipment, known as Gold Katcha, he said, were acquired to provide an alternative means of extracting the gold without polluting the water bodies and the natural environment.
The minister called on all Ghanaians to support the government’s interventions to curb illegal mining by reporting persons involved in the activities.
The Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah reiterated the government’s commitment to fighting illegal mining and called on chiefs and traditional leaders to support the efforts to clamp down on the menace.
Nana KwaminaWienu II, Chief of Yabiw and Acting Paramount Chief of Shama Traditional Area, noted that illegal mining had become an impediment to Ghana’s development saying that “we, the citizens have unfortunately taken delight in destroying our environment.”
He urged the government not to relent in using all legal means to clamp down on the menace and pledged the support of the chiefs in the implementation of policies to fight the canker.
The Chief decried the water supply challenges which the community faced due to the activities of illegal mining in the River Pra.
Nana Wienu urged the government to strengthen the community scheme and make it possible for everyone to participate.
FROM CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS, BEPOSO