Economy | Mining

Ban on galamsey slows economic activities in Amansie West

Businesses operating in Amansie West District, a predominantly small-scale mining area, are struggling to survive following the ban on illegal mining or galamsey.

Entities which were booming at the peak of the mining operations have had to fold up or currently face iminent collapse.

Early this year, the government ordered a halt in small-scale legal and illegal mining in a bid to halt the destruction caused to the environment by illegal miners.

However, in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region, mining is virtually the only business on which the local economy thrives.

Life in the various communities in the district was very vibrant as new businesses sprang up every now and then.

All that has changed for the worse and many parts of the town have are being deserted.

A microfinance company in the area is among the hardest hit by the effects of the ban on mining.

Officials of the financial service institution say they are sometimes hardly able to mobilize up to 20 cedis deposit a day.

amansie signage

Manager for the company, Edward Appiah, explains that “people were saving in a day you could receive GHC 5,000 deposit from one customer. Then you could also grant loans to customers, within that period repayment was very good because business to them was booming. 

"But recently you need to run to the court for assistance to trace your money. When you go to the debtors you will realize it is not their fault because business is bad, all in the name of the ban on galamsey.”

Other financial institutions, including rural and commercial banks, also feel the heat.                        

A market at Manso — one of the communities in the district — used to bubble with activity sometimes late into the night, but the story is not the same now.

Grace Poku, a market woman explains she is going through hardships currently.

“The ban on the small scale activities have really affected the patronage of our goods here in this market, during the heydays of the small scale mining business was booming, but now there’s no money in the system when I come here I sit idle and go back home with few cedis," she recounts.

Another market woman Abenaa Sekyiwa sitting idle in her pavilion told Joy News that “I took a loan from the bank to ran my business, because of the ban patronage has gone down I can't even get money to pay back my loan at the bank, we are struggling here we want authorities to regularize the small scale mining so our business can come back to life.”

Following government’s ban on both illegal and small scale mining, miners who have been jobless for the past five months cannot wait for the six-month period to elapse so they know their fate.

Bismark Ocra, leader of the small scale miners in Manso Nkwanta emotionally says that “I have employed over 250 fifty workers including graduates, but after the government's ban on mining there has been a serious economic crisis in this area especially among the youth.”

He further urges Government to issue licenses and regularize their only source of livelihood.

“We side with the authorities to regularize the mining activities, we are ready to pay tax to the government, and all that we are waiting is for the government to issue us a license to operate.

"These unemployed youth will get work to and development will be accelerated for `Amansie West to get back on its toes,” Mr. Ocra added.

Traditional authorities believe alternative livelihood would bring business back to life.

“This community is basically into cocoa farming and mining, once the mining activities have been restricted my government, alternative source of livelihood such as cocoa processing factory through the one-district –factory agenda to resuscitate our business life which has been affected by the ban on all mining activities," said Manso-Nkwanta Anyinasehene, Nana Akrasi Frimpong.

The chief has called for government’s swift intervention with alternative livelihood to improve resident’s living standards.

District Chief Executive, William Bediako Asante, re-states government commitment to job creation through alternative sources of livelihood for residents.

“My people cannot solely rely on galamsey as the only source of livelihood, my government is working tirelessly to revamp the people’s life with alternative livelihood like baking, farming and even setting up a factory out of the one district-one factory agenda,” he said. 

Mr Bediako assures immediate intervention to bring life into collapsed businesses within his district.