Stop illegal miners’ guns!

It is clear that successive administrations have not been able to check illegal mining and its attendant unbridled pollution of river bodies and land degradation.

While seeking the Presidency, candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promised to tackle the problem if elected.

Therefore, on assuming the presidency on January 7, 2017, his government, in July that same year, set up Operation Vanguard, a joint military-police task force to spearhead the fight against galamsey and as well ordered a 20-month ban on small-scale mining.

So far, the galamsey fight has been characterised by various developments.

For instance, the illegal miners have not shown any sign of fear for the war and so some of them are arrested or even killed as they confront security personnel chasing them out of their illegal and destructive activities.

One worrying thing is that even foreigners are neck-deep in the galamsey but it became more worrying when in February 2020 Operation Vanguard had to be replaced by the local police in all the districts where illegal mining is rife.

The directive was said to be due to allegations that some of the members of the task force were involved in extortion, bribery and corruption.

Today, there are various operations in the affected districts but the problem is either such operations are not well-coordinated or they are incompetently being run.

Besides, the allegations of official complicity and inaction cannot be ruled out.

For instance, in June this year, while inaugurating a special anti-galamsey task force to combat the increased illegal mining activities in the Western North Region, the Regional Minister and Chairman of the Regional Security Council, Mr Richard Ebbah Obeng, told the media that due to the intermittent activities of Operation Hot 2, an earlier task force, illegal miners got the chance to proceed with their exploitations, hence the new operations.

Why should the schedules of Operation Hot 2 be made intermittent in the first place? That in itself was a flaw once the modus operandi of illegal miners was no secret to the state.

All along, there have been more talk than effective action to stop galamsey.

On September 20, for instance, the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Seth Acheampong, was on air to say that despite the numerous setbacks recorded in the war against illegal mining in the country, the government was still on course.

As if to support the view expressed by Mr Acheampong, on September 28, the Minister of National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah said at the West Africa Mining Security (WAMS) Conference in Accra that the government was considering a review of its security strategies in combating the menace.

What that means is that the security apparatus behind the fight has not been that effective, or there are some unseen hands giving the galamseyers some impetus.

If not, how could illegal miners at Asaman Tamfoe in the Eastern Region engage a community anti-galamsey taskforce in a gun battle on Thursday?

Let President Akufo-Addo investigate even his own ministers and party members suspected to be involved in galamsey but covering their activities with their clout.

Everything now shows that the fight against galamsey has gone notches higher and getting into a very dangerous dimension.

Every effort must therefore be made to stop the illegal miners’ guns immediately because just a little while and illegal security forces would emerge and the consequences would be difficult to check.

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