Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, has disclosed that 28 excavators have been seized and destroyed during the second phase of ‘Operation Halt’ aimed at controlling illegal mining on water bodies.

Addressing a press conference Tuesday, he noted that the equipment were all seized within a 100-meter radius of various water bodies where a ban on mining has been placed.

“Within the specified areas, the armed forces also destroyed 267 chanfan machines, 18 water pumping machines, one milling machine, etc.,” he said.

This follows the first phase of the operation which began in late April.

Government issued a directive for all logistics and persons engaged in mining on water bodies to be removed. The operation, dubbed ‘Operation Halt’ began on the Pra River and is expected to continue to all parts of the country.

In phase one, government indicated that two Chinese nationals were arrested with nine excavators destroyed.

However, in phase two, the number of excavators destroyed has shot up to 28.

The Defence Minister noted that this development is indicative of the lack of appreciation of the local folks in the fight against galamsey.

Giving further information, he disclosed that the military tasked with fighting the canker were also strongly resisted by community members.

“Most of the locals do not appreciate the dangers associated with illegal mining and particularly in a community called Kyekyewere, where the local chief tried to mobilise the local folks against the soldiers,” he said.

On his part, the Lands and Natural resources Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, also justified the operation.

He stated that government had issued clear directives against the operations of illegal miners especially those who operate on water bodies, thus, every citizen is expected to comply with the directive.

He added that government will not relent in its efforts in fighting the canker.