The Government of the New Patriotic (NPP) upon assumption of office declared a stringent fight against illegal mining in the country.

Against all the odds such as criticisms that the then flag bearer of the party had promised not to do anything to prevent people in this illegal industry, severe opposition from galamsey operators, as well as the rampant lambast from very influential personalities who are known to be benefiting directly or indirectly from the nonferrous activities, the President stick to his guns.

The government firmly held the bull by the horn and put in place pragmatic measures to stop what has become a cancer in the Ghanaian society.

The move was a bold one and has been lauded widely, because it is putting a halt to the rampant and unwarranted destruction of the nation’s ecology including nice and useful river bodies by few individuals.

Since the inception of this initiative, several interventions from the government, traditional authorities, churches, civil society organisations, the media among others have been put in place. These collaborative efforts to help curb the menace which has been with the country for years are seen to be yielding some positive results, at least in the area of water pollution.

Among the measures, the Government deployed a task force of over 400 security personnel across the length and breadth of the country especially within the three most affected regions of the country such as Eastern, Western and Ashanti to undertake security exercises to help achieve the aims of the government, that is to bring an end to the threat.

This special taskforce ‘Operation Vanguard’ has indeed worked hard to meet the dreams of the government but it has not been that smooth. It has been met with huge resistance from the communities especially those engaged in the menace.

This is primarily due to the basic fact that, this has been their main and perhaps their only source of livelihood.

The entire illegal mining communities therefore have collaborated in preventing the security agencies to effectively work to bring the practice to an end holistically.

The government and all well-meaning citizens of this land have helped through various interventions to encouraged the taskforce to fight these unscrupulous Ghanaians with all the zeal, enthusiasm, courage and fortitude and exhibit the highest degree of professionalism with a clear conscience.

As stated by the Minister for Interior, Mr. Ambrose Derry, at the launch of the taskforce, “We cannot fail in this operation, failure is not an option, we shall put an end to all forms of illegal mining activities”.

Relentlessly, the taskforce has made successful incursions into the territories of the illegal miners, areas where hitherto were no go areas. They are reported to have seized and, in some cases, destroyed several machines used by the illegal miners, while several arrests have also been made.

The destruction of the equipment used by the illegal miners by the taskforce has been met with vociferous objections with some citizens threatening court actions against the taskforce.

This is an interesting development as who could lead this illegal on slot against the legally instituted team. Besides it is on record that these equipment were engaged in illegal mining which from all indications blatantly flouts the laws of Ghana.

Would such people go forward and claim ownership of the equipment without being prosecuted for destroying the nation’s eco systems? Would they not face persecution, if they go forward to claim ownership of the equipment, for employing and encouraging others to poison our river bodies? If they dare come out would they not be prosecuted for aiding foreigners, in some cases, illegal migrants to destroy Ghana’s arable farmlands?

The good news is that not withstanding the odds, the taskforce has persevered and made some tangible inroads. The lasted media reports have it that a little over one thousand illegal miners have so far been arrested by the taskforce (Operation Vanguard)

The Public Relations Officer of the Taskforce, Squadron Leader Robison Omane-Agyei, one time was reported to have said that nearly 200 excavators had also been seized and another 196 immobilized at illegal mining sites, within the first half of the first year of its of its operations

82 small arms with 1,370 cartridges had been captured and 3,002 chang-fa machines (floating platforms) destroyed.

All these aside, today, there is some disappointment among the populace as the news of the seized excavators can not be found. Reports have it that over 500 of the heavy-duty earthmoving machines cannot be traced. The accusation is that, the very people mandated to help halt the menace, have turned around to use the same ‘illegal’ systems to also operate illegally within the same illegal fields.

“Last week, gathered from security agencies that illegal miners whose excavators were seized paid between GHC50,000 and GHC55,000 into a private account of a journalist in order to take back their equipment.

Peace FM’s Seth Mantey in his account to the security agencies revealed, “I became the contact boy for the miners whose excavators had been seized. The miners pay between GHC50,000 and GHC55,000 into my account at NIB to influence the team for the seized excavators to be released. I then inform the team about the payment of the monies into my account, which I withdraw and give to Mr. Ofori Atta who then give some to Mr. Ekow Ewudzie of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.”

The Ghana Police Service recently announced the arrest of six persons over missing excavators and other equipment seized by operatives of Operation Vanguard.

The six persons arrested so far are; Horace Ekow Ewusi, Frederick Ewusi, Joel Asamoah, Adnan Haruna, Frank Gyan and John Arhin.

The suspended First Central Regional Vice-Chair of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Horace Ekow Ewusi, is alleged to have a hand in the missing excavators, and therefore is part of the six arrested to help provide information to the police to uncover circumstances leading to the disappearance of the 500 excavators in the country.

One would ask, how these heavy equipment disappeared. Excavators are simply not like mobile phones which could be put in one’s pocket. If they have been sold as speculated then it is really true that “onipa ho ye hu”. Man is indeed fearful.

I hope and pray that this must not be true. If it is then such individuals involve might have to a very large extent disappointed the President of the land who mandated them to work on his behalf.

All well meaning Ghanaians would buy into the suggestion by the Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr., O.B. Amoah that all who are found to have been involved in the disgraceful act must be named and shamed.

This is because such acts and others like the alleged bribery scandals within the rather laudable move by the President, who proclaimed to sacrifice his presidency for the ending of this act of galamsey would have meant nothing.

In the words of Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central constituency, Kennedy Agyapong “We have failed in terms of Galamsey fight. We have indeed failed and we must admit. I won’t lie and people who did not sacrifice for the party are the ones enjoying…they did not suffer. They have to stop all those people including the soldiers for ‘GalamStop’. They must be stopped from working”,

Who has to ask or force these individuals to resign? They have not only put the powers who repose confidence in them to shame, but have rather brought the entire exercise to futility. They must do the right and honorable thing, if it is true that they have done these or such have happened under their watch.

Nana Sifa Twum

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