Government proposes to tackle illegal mining through collaboration

Government would tackle illegal mining activities (galamsey) through collaboration, law enforcement and technological approach, Mr John Peter Amewu, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources has announced.

He said these interventions would first have to identify the challenges and the available opportunities in the mining sector.

He recounted that in 2014, a number of foreigners were arrested in various swoops and deported.

He said the commitment to sustain these swoops to preserve and protect the environment had been lacking because it was not sustainable.

“This is why the Ministry has come up with a concept of Multilateral Mining Integration Project (MMIP),” Mr Amewu stated on Wednesday in Accra during the Stakeholders Workshop on ‘How to Control Illegal Mining Activities in Ghana.’

“This Project will be planned and implemented between three to five years. A holistic approach to combat illegal mining relies on more than just militants and combat actions in mining communities; MMIP combines Legislations Enforcement Civil Integration and Technical Approach (LECITA) as a sustainable and structured but regimental conjoint concept which will encompass multi stakeholders,” the Minister stated.

Mr Amewu said the mining sector in Ghana was categorised into large and small scale; adding that the Small Scale Mining (SSM) sector was reserved for Ghanaians, while the Large Scale Mining (LSM) sector was opened for foreign participation.

“It is estimated that 25,000 and over 1.5 million people are engaged in the large scale and the small scale mining sectors respectively,” he said.

“One can only see that the SSM sector provides more jobs to people than the large scale mining sector.

“However, the LSM sector is more organised and, therefore, environmentally friendly than the small scale mining especially illegal mining,” he said.
Mr Amewu said illegal SSM was seen carried out in forest reserves, water bodies, cocoa farms and LSM concessions and even around sensitive infrastructures like schools and railway lines.

He explained that Galamsey activities have had and continue to have negative impacts on the environment and socio-economic development of the entire country in recent years.

Mr Amewu said the menace of illegal mining had assumed a dimension that posed a threat to national security and therefore, required a multi-stakeholder engagement to identify the various challenges and available opportunities for overcoming them.

He said various interventions initiated by successive governments to address the galamsey menace had been hampered by various challenges such as the lack of political will, inability to enforce laws and ownership of lands versus ownership of minerals.

Others were the spectrum of people involved, diplomatic relations with affected foreign nationals’ countries and necessary support from some state institutions and every citizen.

He said the government had the political will to enforce the appropriate measures to control illegal mining in the country.

Dr Toni Aubynn, the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, said it was high time government found a lasting solution to the issue of illegal mining in the country.

Mr Jacob Osei Yeboah, a mining consultant and an Independent Presidential Candidate in the 2016 general election, called for a second look at the issue of SSM; adding that there was the need to develop a system to reclaim all degraded mining areas.

Nana Ehunabobrim Prah Agyensaim VI, Paramount Chief of the Assin Owirenkyi Traditional Area, who chaired the event, explained that illegal mining was an illegality and should not be confused with galamsey activties.

Mr Jiang Zhouteng, the Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana and Mr Andrew Barns, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana were among the dignitaries who attended the workshop.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

How Ghanaians Are Being Poisoned With Noxious Mercury And Cyanide

By: Kwaku Badu

t is true that potential economic benefits (employment, tax revenues and development outcomes) can be derived from small-scale mining sector in Ghana.

We cannot also deny the fact that small-scale mining is a significant contributor to the economic and social well-being of many people and households in rural, remote, and poor communities in Ghana.

Nevertheless, the way small-scale mining sector is being managed in Ghana, it does not look favourable. The sector is being managed abysmally.

Apparently, the laws which govern the small-scale mining sector are somehow confused and inconsistent. Indeed, all the attention is basically being focused on the large-scale mining sector, leaving the small-scale mining sector at a substantial disadvantage.

To be quite honest, the regulators laissez faire leadership style may cost the nation dearly in the long run.

Having said that, in order to achieve the maximum benefit, it is extremely important that society as a whole must have an interest in promoting and strengthening the role of small-scale mining in national development.

In addition, the effective implementation of regulations and fortifications towards the developmental potential of the sector must be the topmost importance to the regulating authorities.

It must also be emphasised that societies at large may be both positively and negatively affected by small-scale mining.

The positive effects may include the promotion of efficient resource use, such as extracting ores from small deposits or from tailings, and thus providing the rural folks with incomes.

On the other hand, the negative effects may include, among other things, environmental degradation, water pollution, the release of mercury and other toxic and hazardous wastes into the free environment, and unforeseen social tensions that can lead to civil unrest.

And more so overlapping and conflicting laws, or laws and regulations that are not based on an understanding of the local context of small-scale mining, often hinder and erode the sector’s potential to contribute to sustainable development.

For instance, it is somewhat difficult to establish whether if the interests of the indigenous people are consistent with those of the small-scale miners.

And what is more, while some indigenous people may secure their livelihoods from small-scale mining, there may be other instances in which non-indigenous small scale miners (Chinese illegal miners) threaten the livelihoods of the indigenous people.

For instance, in spite of the fact that by law, only Ghanaians are allowed to obtain mining licenses for small-scale mining operations, “thousands” of Chinese and other foreigners are working in the small scale mining sector in Ghana.

“The involvement of the Chinese has changed the dynamics of small-scale mining,” the head of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said in an interview.

“They use bulldozers, pay loaders and really heavy machinery. They have in fact mechanized artisanal mining and as a result the level of environmental devastation is huge.”

Worst of all, some greedy and unpatriotic Ghanaians are colluding with the Chinese illegal miners to forcibly dig our natural resources, destroy the environment and terrorise the rural folks.

Disappointingly, this illegal practice is making nonsense of the essence of the enactment of the small-scale mining laws.

Apparently, the small-scale mining law was promulgated to allow native Ghanaians to engage in small-scale mining legally, with a view to engaging them in a meaningful employment.

However, some obdurate Ghanaians have been abusing the small-scale mining law over the years. Sources have it that, often, Ghanaians would secure plots of land, and then go into partnership with the Chinese who have funds to bring in the bulldozers and all the other big equipment.

Obviously, there are lapses in the 1989 small-scale mining law (PNDCL 218). For example, the law states categorically that no licence for small-scale gold mining operation shall be granted to any person who is not a citizen of Ghana. Strangely, however, the same law allows a Ghanaian licence holder to seek logistics assistance from their foreign minions.

Consequently, some Ghanaian licence holders would more often than not go beyond the stated jurisdiction and involve the foreigners in the mining operations.

Indeed, the epochal violations of the small-scale mining law go to show that there is a break down in the sector. To me, the sector requires overhaul.

Let us face it, better data and policies are needed to get the sector back on track.

So, going forward, the 1989 small-scale mining law has to be amended. The amendments must make it unlawful for any Ghanaian to transfer small-scale mining licences to their foreign minions, and must also prohibit allocation of mining lands to the illegal miners.

The fact of the matter is that at the moment, the small-scale mining sector is in a complete mess. Thus, I will venture to propound that if possible, President Nana Akufo-Addo must suspend all the activities in the small-scale mining sector whilst the authorities restore sanity into the system.

Even though my commendation may seem extremely draconian, I am afraid, if proper care is not taken, some greedy and obnoxious Ghanaians will continue to denude the environment, pollute the water bodies and inadvertently poison Ghanaians with mephitic substances such as mercury and cyanide.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Illegal mining: Chiefs, politicians fingered in documentary to be released soon

By: Naa Sakwaba Akwa

 

Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper says chiefs, politicians and other public servants have been fingered in a documentary on illegal mining being prepared by his team.

Kweku Baako said the investigative team, supported by Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Tiger Eye PI, has been gathering the materials for the past nine months and will be released once all the facts have been properly verified.

Speaking on Peace FM’s morning show ‘Kokroko’, the  veteran journalist and a sympathizer of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), said the details are shocking.

“It has to do with this whole galamsey thing and when we are ready, we will put out the facts. It has been going on for nine months.

“Elements in all the parties, major parties who have ruled the country, including the NPP are involved at the constituency, district and regional levels,” he said.

Residents in mining communities across the country have consistently complained about the activities of illegal miners, popularly known as ‘galamsey’.

galamsey picture of the week

Activities of galamsey operators has resulted in the pollution of the River Pra

The activities of the illegal miners – which sometimes includes Chinese – have caused a lot of damage to many river bodies, including Pra and Birim.

Many farmlands and other properties have been destroyed, striping residents off their livelihood. Earlier this week, the Tanoso Water Treatment Plant in the Brong Ahafo region had to be shut down as a result of the drying up of the Tano river.

Although the drying up of the river is partly as a result of the long period of drought in the area, residents believe the indiscriminate illegal mining activities are a major factor.

Governments over the period have failed in their attempts to curb the situation. Newly appointed Western Regional minister, Dr Kwaku Afriyie says laws on illegal mining need to be enforced if the situation can be successfully addressed.

But Kweku Baako said some of the chiefs are culprits in the ongoing menace.

“Chiefs, people in the security services, the forestry and minerals commission are all part of the rot and it is spirit killing,” he said.

He is, however confident in the abilities of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to deal with the situation once the evidence is put before him.

“I believe he will act, if he doesn’t, I will be so shocked.”

 

Source: myjoyonline.com

Obour, Richie, Others Join Fight Against Galamsey

Obour

Obour

President of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Bice Osei Kuffuor, popularly known as Obuor, and other players in Ghana’s entertainment industry, including Richie Mensah of Lynx Entertainment, have joined the fight against illegal mining activities in the country.

The artistes and a local non-governmental organisation, A-Rocha Ghana, have partnered to undertake advocacy and education activities in local mining communities under a project dubbed ‘Save Atiwa Forest’.

The Atiwa forest is a mineral rich forest reserve in Ghana with deposits of gold and bauxite in commercial quantity.

In recent times, the forest has suffered various activities of illegal mining and cutting of timber which has destroyed the natural forest and affected the Densu, Ayensu and Birim rivers.

The involvement of the entertainers to the project is to educate the general public on the need to maintain and preserve the natural forest.

Speaking to Citi News, Obour expressed regret at the alarming rate at which the Atiwa forest was being depleted.

“It is really disheartening when you look at the mess which is created by the activities of illegal galamsey and chainsaw operators in this country. They mine the lands, fell trees and sometimes even set fire on portions of the land where the hunt and farm, and these activities are depleting the forest. It is high time we all came on board as ambassadors to add our voices to help save and preserve the rich natural Atiwa forest. I believe if we do not act now, it will be too late,” Obour stated.

He added that the group would lobby to get the government to pass a legislation to make the Atiwa forest a national park as a measure to help protect the forest.

Other musicians supporting the project include Nero X, Sherifa Gunu and the Patch Bay Band. The group will visit some galamsey sites and interact with the miners. They will also camp at the Atiwa forest to take inspiration from the natural environment and compose series of songs for the campaign.

 

Source: modernghana.com

 

 

 

 

Sadly, The 2017 Budget Statement Didn’t Mention Galamsey Even Once!

 

 

By: Cameron Duodu

The 2017 budget statement read to Parliament and the nation by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori Atta, on 02 March 2017 can be described as a a very competent and optimistic one.

It was also very transparent. It gave a clear balance of payments position, without obliging us to go through many Tables to find it. The balance of payments is in this state (the Minister said):

QUOTE: “The balance of payments (BOP) turned surplus for the first time since 2011, due to [an] improved current account balance. Accordingly, there was a build-up in gross foreign assets, which supported the relative stability in the exchange rate.

The BOP surplus was US$247 million, compared to a deficit of US$129 million in 2015. The trade balance improved from a deficit of US$3.1bn in 2015 to a deficit of US$1.7bn in 2016, due to increased export receipts (by 7.2 percent) and a decline in imports (by 5.3 percent.)

The gross foreign assets at the end of December was estimated at US$6,161.80 million, from US$5,884.70 million at the end of December 2015, representing a build-up of US$277.07 million. This was sufficient to provide cover for 3.5 months of imports of goods and services, same as in December 2015.” UNQUOTE

I am impressed that the Minister did not seek to hide our relatively good external account situation in Tables in the appendix to the Budget Statement (since the figures reflect rather well on the John Mahama administration’s effort to bring the economy under control in 2016.) I hope the Minister will continue with this policy of being honest about the economy. You can’t quite hide an economy, yet some Finance Ministers foolishly pretend that they can “talk up” an economy even as it totters to the ground.

The Minister’s tax reductions were also a good sign that he has his ears to the ground. No wonder he is being serenaded in the markets by the Kayayei. I wouldn’t like to be in the position of his wife, at this rate!)

I was also impressed by the Minister’s willingness to share with the nation, certain figures that, hitherto, have tended to reside mainly in the vaults of the finance ministry and the Bank of Ghana.

The Minister revealed that:
QUOTE: “In 2016, GNPC lifted …. 5,856,921 barrels of oil (4,860,462 barrels of Jubilee oil and 996,459 barrels of TEN oil). Receipts from crude oil liftings ….amounted to US$207.79 million (GHȻ811.68 million). The proceeds from the 35th Jubilee and 1st TEN liftings in December 2016 were received in the first quarter of 2017. …. [However] actual petroleum receipts for 2016 fell short of the 2015 performance by 29.1 percent.” UNQUOTE

Figures of this nature should help to create optimism in the populace. We are getting this oil money at a time when oil prices are low on the international market. If and when oil prices improve, we most certainly can look forward to walking tall again. Even if we are only able to produce enough petroleum to meet our local needs, we should count ourselves lucky, for expenditure on petroleum imports is one of the driving forces of our decline into poverty as a nation.

.
The Minister also – very commendably – told us the situation with regard to the prices we can expect from two of our main exports – cocoa and gold. This is something that has not been prominently depicted in official statements on the economy in recent years. The Minister said:

QUOTE: “Gold prices are expected to decline from an average of US$1,249 per fine ounce in 2016 to US$1,219 in 2017, due largely to an expected strengthening of the US dollar. According to the Commodity Markets Outlook by the World Bank, [the] cocoa price is projected to average about US$2,940 per tonne in 2017– up from US$2,850 in 2016.UNQUOTE

Of course, the cocoa farmers will be entitled to demand that the greater part of the slightly less than $100 per tonne increase in the world price will be passed on to them. In this connection, I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the Ghana Cocobod spends far too much of our earnings from cocoa on just administering the exportation of the crop.

The way the Cocobod borrows heavily from external sources to buy the crop each year is also not in the best interests of the country. The loans attract a relatively high interest rate at a time when interest rates are very low the world over. Some Ghanaians suspect that the loans, in fact, do bring a lot of “commissions” to the “Yennkye nni” [Let’s share it and eat!] lot who arrange them.

Maybe the Government should, in fact, carry out a thorough review/ audit of the Cocobod’s operations. This has been left undone for years, because, fear that the Board might perform badly if it is interfered with, has made successive Governments leave the Cocobod virtually untouchable, although we all know that untouchability is a dangerous lever to corruption in a conscienceless society like ours.

Indeed, the time has come for the Government to examine the very raison d’etre of the Cocobod.

Why should we maintain a Cocobod that was established by the colonial Government in 1947 for its own nefarious purposes? Given the huge overhead costs that the Board recoups from the “operation allowance” given to it by the Government from our earnings from cocoa exports, is the Cocobod truly cost-effective?

Beyond that is the question of doing justice to the cocoa farmer. Fishermen sell their catch themselves through the open market. So do plantain farmers, cassava farmers, citrus and pine-apple farmers, and other agricultural producers.No marketing board intereferes with their operarions. So why should cocoa farmers alone be singled out and be made to serve as the unacknowledgedlabourers of the Cocobod (and by implication, the Government?)

The inherited system is convenient to the Government, to be sure, but an injustice cannot be perpetuated because its imposition was convenient to the dictator who imposed it. With modern data systems in existence that are capable of capturing sales, the main argument that the Government cannot collect taxes from cocoa farmers unless the Cocobod, a Government agency, sells their crop, is untenable and extremely backward. Can you see the German Government selling BMW and Mercedes cars for the manufacturers because they pay such huge taxes and the Government wants to take it at source? Or the French Government selling wine for the producers?

“FREE THE COCOA FARMER” I say to the Government. Otherwise its claim to be a liberal, business-friendly” Government, will be just hypocritical hot air.

The ECOWAS Common External Tariff system, which Ghana has joined, will (the Government recognises) be a “a major platform for the establishment of [a] Customs Union… and help address problems such as cross-border smuggling and dumping in the sub-region”. Surely, the elimination of smuggling should serve as a further incentive for the Government to allow cocoa farmers to sell their own crop?

“Change has come!” NPP followers believe. The Government says it’s in a hurry to transmit the effects of that change to the ordinary people. It should therefore not waste any time in turning the “change” into reality for our cocoa farmers.

Another aspect of the budget that disappointed me was the Minister’s inability to even outline or highlight the steps the Government plans to take to fight our biggest national calamity of the moment – galamsey.

If the Government as a whole does not make the anti-galamsey crusade its major plank, it will wake up one day to find that all our water-bodies are dead and that whatever social changes it seeks to bring to the rural areas – such as”one district one factory” – will be dead in the muddy-water, so to speak, and be still-born.

You just cannot mess about with your people’s drinking water. Mr Ken Ofori Atta mentioned his own pedigree, and that of his boss, President Akufo Addo, in his introduction to the budget statement. That pedigree carries a message back to them, namely, that the River Birem, which nurtured them when they were babies, must not be allowed to die. Right now, it is in its death-throes and crying out – like the Prah, the Offin, the Oti, the Tanoh, the Densu and many other rivers in Ghana — Grand-children of the Oforipanin Stool, now that you have got power, do not turn a deaf ear to the cries of agony of your country’s Sacred Rivers! If YOU of all people close your ears to our cries, to whom shall we turn next?” Would Danquah allow it? Would Paa willy allow it? Would Barfuor Osei Akoto allow it?

As the Twi proverb has it, “Na asem se ber!” (A word to the wise is enough).

 

Source: modernghana.com

‘$250 Million Required To Reclaim Lands And Water Bodies Destroyed By Galamsey’

 

An estimated $250 million is required to reclaim lands and water bodies affected by illegal mining (galamsey) activities in the Western Region, the International Growth Centre (IGC) has said.

A study conducted by the IGC, an organisation that documents galamsey operations and their environmental impacts, said the amount was a testament to the massive destruction galamsey was causing to the environment.

Details of the study, which was disclosed at a public forum organised by the IGC in Accra last Tuesday, showed that illegal mining was undertaken in various forms.

It was on the theme: “The Footprints of Galamsey in Ghana: The Western Region under the Microscope.”

In a speech read on his behalf by a former Member of Parliament for Bantama, Mr Henry Kokofu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, said the ministry had instituted measures to curtail illegal small-scale mining activities, which includes the enforcement of laws and regulations guiding operations in the mining sector.

Measures
The minister stated that there would also be institutional collaboration among regulatory agencies, small-scale miners’ association, and civil society organisations (CSO’s) to drive sensitisation programmes against galamsey.

“Government is also considering the option of employing a software that is capable of tracking the movement of earth moving equipment used in illegal mining and the possibility of utilising drone technology to track the activities of illegal miners,” he said.

The minister stated that other measures and interventions that would come out of the forum would go a long way to help cure the canker associated with the mining environment.

Research findings
According to one of the researchers, Dr Jones Nantey of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the research showed that Ghana could import water in the near future if action is not taken to save the rivers from further pollution through illegal mining.

He lamented over situations where some farmers sold their farms for “small money” to illegal miners and said the practice denied such farmers their livelihoods in future.

Dr Nantey said apart from the fact that the people involved in galamsey were causing environmental hazard, the business was also having negative effects on the economy since the operators did not pay taxes to the government.

“If only we knew the kind of revenue this illegal people make. It is rather unfortunate they deal with the black market and don’t pay tax, which is another offence on its own”, he said.

The Chief of Sakubasi in the Eastern Region, Osabarima Asiedu Boafo II, charged the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and other stakeholders to combat illegal mining in the country to preserve land and water bodies for future generations.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Open letter to chiefs in ‘galamsey’

 

Dear Nananom,
You are deemed powerful and influential in many facets of our lives. You have, and continue to be the face of tradition whenever our culture is mentioned. You are the ones we resort to for wisdom when political systems appear to fail us. It is you we run to, when family matters seem unsolvable.

In fact, our heritage glitters to the world when you adorn yourselves in that colourful Kente cloth, necklaces, bracelets and other rich regalia.

Nananom, simply put, you are the unifiers of the spirit and soul our ancestors left to keep.

But Nananom, some of you in the last few decades have shown, by your decrees and actions that you are disappointing.

Some of you have disgraced yourselves and the very thrones you sit on. You have brought into disrepute the thrones your forefathers spilled bloods to pave way for your occupancy today. Some of you have brought into question, the dignity, the respect and the honor our tradition has long enjoyed.

It is regrettable to see many of you in the Western, Ashanti and Eastern regions engaging and defending ‘galamsey’ [Illegal mining] silently. Some of you own Changfans used to pollute ancestral rivers your grandparents guarded jealously.

For those of you Nananom involved in this, whichever way you look at galamsey, its negative and long term effects are damaging than the short-term happiness you pursue.

I just don’t get it! It is from you we heard for the start that “nsu a nsu, nsa a nsa”. [If it is water, let it be, if it is alcohol, let it be].

But let me respectfully ask, Nananom that, can drops of water from Pra, Ankobra, Tano or Birim; rivers of old, be used to perform these naming ceremonies these days?

It is shocking all this while that some of you have been accused by political figures that you are involved in the practice, no chief across the country has taken the bold step forward to amass support to end it. It is very shocking!

National House of Chiefs; please be concerned. Be concerned because many of your members in these three regions are fast losing the respect of the middle class and their very own local subjects.

When your subjects go wayward, see how you unleash traditional punitive measures to correct them! Why is it so hard for the National House of Chiefs to clean its house when some of its members are involved in activities that threaten the very people from whom they draw their powers?

Another thing! Is it not a shame that water pots in your chambers are now filled with sachet water? Your ancestors use to fill their pots from the riverside. The cool rivers that your ancestors used to fetch water while in their farms have been polluted.

Your ancestors knew some of the major rivers have alluvial gold in them. But did they choose their personal interest over their people? Absolutely not! They knew the over 2,000 communities dotted around major rivers depend on them for everyday well-being.

Nananom, take a tour, for example, to the Daboase Water Treatment Plant and see for yourselves whether you will drink tap water again if you return.

Go and see the turbid yellowish raw water that end in your kitchens at home and see if you will be convinced to take it. It’s very disappointing Nananom.

The Changfans and excavators you have bought just like the politicians and other businessmen, and have given them to desperate unemployed youth to head into cocoa farms and river bodies are open to Nana Nyame [God].

We have heard of those of you too who demand that ‘galamseyers’ visit your palaces and pay monies to you before you give them the go ahead.

Nananom, will you be men enough to stand tall to your predecessors should they wake up today to question your deeds? Hmm!

Finally Nananom, please stop facilitating foreigners and other people from mining in the Upper Wassa, Fure River and the Tonton Forest Reserves in the Western Region.

As we speak, the Forestry Commission and the Minerals Commission have given permission to people to prospect for gold in these reserves.

Question: When the gold is found in commercial quantities, will the forest reserve be depleted because of the gold?

Must we mine gold no matter where it is found? How many of the reserves have been added by the present generation to warrant taking down the previous?

God is watching us all, and he speaks of destroying those who destroy the earth at Revelation 11:18. Read it!

Nananom, I respect tradition and people who stand for it. Forgive your son if you find my submissions offensive. Those of you who are not involved, please get your colleagues to stop it OK? It’s not good.

For some traditional heads to be losing their respect because of these things, it will be disappointing if tradition collapses under your watch. Thank you.

Your son,
Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/citifmonline.com/Ghana
Email: walkerjazzy23@gmail.com

 

Source: modernghana.com

Community members arrested for resisting illegal Chinese miners

By: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo, citifmonline.com

 

A task-force made up of police and military have arrested and allegedly molested over 30 community members at Sefwi Mafia, a farming community in the Sefwi Juabeso district of the Western Region for protesting against the invasion of Chinese illegal miners on their farms and river bodies.

The police, who are said to have carried the raid at about 2:00am Tuesday [February 21, 2017], also arrested children of school-going age.

Speaking to Citi News, a former Assembly Member for the Sefwi Mafia Electoral Area, Stephen Anobil, narrated that “Chinese miners invaded our community about a week ago. They went to our cocoa farms without permission and started digging them out. They then headed into the only stream serving as the source of drinking water for the community. When we realized; they were brought into the community by our chief Nana Sanfo II, we insisted the illegal miners leave our farms.”

“That ended up in a scuffle between the illegal miners and community members. In the process, an excavator belonging to the Chinese was burnt down. That has happened about a week ago until last night about 2:00am; when we heard people running helter-skelter. When we checked, it was the joint force that was arresting people who are alleged to have resisted the Chinese illegal miners”.

He continued that “they come to your door, ask you to open. If you fail, they use teargas to force you out. They then beat and force you into their car. They beat everyone including women and children”.

Stephen Anobil also said that “a woman who was asleep with his son was forced out naked. When she told them her husband has travelled, they forcefully entered her room and ransacked her bags. His son was also beaten to the point that I have to take him to a nearby clinic for attention this morning.”

He concluded that “as we speak, our community is empty. All others have run away into the bush.”

Those arrested have been taken to the Sefwi Asawinso Police Command for interrogation.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Government ready to clamp down on ‘galamseyers’ – Minister

Government is set to clamp down on galamsey operations as a measure to restore water bodies in the country, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation announced on Monday.

He said as part of plans to clamp down on illegal mining, the government  would ban the dredging of water bodies and rivers which was usually carried out by illegal miners to allow the water bodies to contain the volume of water it was supposed to, even in the raining seasons.

“That would also help curtail flooding of the water bodies when it rains and help restore the polluted rivers”, Prof Frimpong-Boateng explained in an interview with journalists in Accra on the side-lines of the regional workshop on “Building Resilience through Innovation, Communication Knowledge Services (BRICKS) Project in Accra.

He said Ghana continued to face land and water issues including drying of rivers, polluted water bodies and overgrazing of grass land, all leading to land degradation.

“Now all the major rivers are polluted to the extent that in some cases their water cannot be treated with methods employed by the water treatment companies.

“The surface water is no longer safe for domestic and agricultural purposes. It is only a question of time that the ground water that we rely on will be equally polluted. At this point our very existence will be in danger,” he said.

He said since water and lands are finite, there was the need to work to manage and preserve what was existing for posterity.

Professor Frimpong-Boateng welcomed the BRICKS project which was being implemented in 12 African Countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo, with the aim of improving the resilience of landscapes and peoples’ livelihoods and contributing to poverty reduction and curbing the degradation of natural resources.

At the opening of a three-day regional workshop, which is aimed at promoting collaboration and building a community of practice through the use of social media and collaborative web tools among the partners of the BRICKS project to disseminate information among stakeholders, he commended the partners for responding to the needs of most African countries and working to restore lost vegetation.

At the workshop, the capacities of participants including media personnel, agricultural extension officers as well as technocrats were being built on the use of web 2.0 tools and other communication tools to help promote effective knowledge sharing for effective, efficient and timely implementation of the BRICKs programmes.

Mrs Saadia Bobtoya Owusu-Amofah, REDD Project Officer at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said three organisations made up of the Permanent Inter-States Committee for Drought and Desertification Control in the Sahel (CILSS), the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) and the (IUCN) were the implementing partners of the BRICKs Project which was established in 2014 and being funded by the World Bank under a six year period.

She explained that the various partners had their specific functions and responsibilities being played to ensure effective land and natural resources management under the Sahel and West Africa programme (SAWAP) region.

Mrs Owusu-Amofah urged participants to work together to optimize communications and interactions between the SAWAP community and its partners and the wider public as a way of helping to contribute to the improvement of the livelihoods of millions of Africans.

Ms Felicite Mangang Officer in charge of Communication at IUCN said the BRICKS project falls under a one billion dollar World Bank funding all aimed at improving resilience in land use and preserving water sources in Africa.

 

Source: ghanabusinessnews.com

Ridding this society off the galamsey menace

 

The new Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation began his official assignment at the weekend, by raising an issue that is fundamental to the existence of many people in this part of the world.
According to Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the government is drawing up a comprehensive plan to clamp-down on the menace of ‘galamsey,’ (illegal mining) that is destroying our water bodies and degrading the environment.
The Minister was answering questions put to him by a journalist from state-run Ghanaian Times at a seminar in Accra.
For starters, the government would place a ban on mining on water bodies. According to the renowned Surgeon now donning the political garb of the New Patriotic Party, the dangerous activities of galamsey operators is polluting our rivers, water bodies and degrading the environment.
The Chronicle is happy with the new thinking in the corridors of power, and prays that the operation is effected sooner than later. All over the country, major rivers are struggling for existence, as a result of massive pollution and use of very dangerous chemicals. It is not the best of sights to behold when one approaches some of our river basins.
The Birim River, once the source of potable water for the three Akyem Traditional Areas – Abuakwa, Kotoku and Bosome – for which the people pride themselves, is now a collection of mud on the move.
The muddy waters of the Birim River empties into the Pra River, which also receives polluted waters from the Offin and other equally polluted rivers and streams. Today, the River Pra is a far cry from its usually calm waters. It is a collection of mud on wheels.
The pollution of our water bodies does not speak well of this country as a society harbouring people whose lives ought to be protected. The mad rush for gold has turned galamsey operators into beasts, who are prepared to kill to realise their dream of fetching gold and diamonds.
As you read this piece, the Black Volta Basin in the Brong Ahafo Region has been turned into an international conglomerate of illegal miners from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and other nearby countries.
First reports indicate that these illegal operators are putting the Bui Dam under threat. Apart from the degrading of the environment and turning the waters of the Black Volta into mud, these illegal operators empty all manner of dangerous chemicals into the river.
The Chronicle learns with a tinge of sadness that mercury and cyanide are used indiscriminately. These chemicals find their way into our water bodies, and expose our people to danger.
The Chronicle will support any means of ridding this country of these illegal operators.
We are mindful of the need for these operators to be able to feed themselves and their families. But we are unable to countenance the destruction of our means of livelihood, just because a group of people want to live well.
It would be a hard nut to crack, if this society should rid itself of the galamsey menace. We cannot pretend to be unaware of the political and traditional influence that underpin the operations of galamsey in Ghana, and which made it difficult for past governments to use the law to curb the menace.
Lack of political will also militates against the determination to rid this society of the menace. If Prof. Frimpong-Boateng and his other officials of state should succeed in eliminating galamsey from this society, they would have to be strong and firm.
The Chronicle believes pressure from within would be too much to resist, but they would have to persevere.
This country and its environments have to be saved. We cannot do so by mere exhortation. Force would have to go hand in hand with exhortations.
We are firm in our conviction that the stick and carrot approach could combine to rid our landscape of the menace of galamsey.
Galamsey is a menace that has to be uprooted. Like the Nigerians say, it is a task that must be done!

 

Source: thechronicle.com.gh