An operation by the Small-scale Mining Task Force has uncovered dredging boats in their numbers on River Ankobra in the Western Region.
The boats, known as Chang fa, are largely responsible for the contamination of river bodies.
The latest revelation comes after the national task force had destroyed about 250 of them at Container, Wiawso and Himann areas of the river.
The Small Scale Mining Taskforce believes faceless financiers of illegal mining are fighting back to get the boats back into the rivers.
“My boss is called Agbee. Myself and my colleague work for him. We have a senior man who owns the machine. I don’t know the senior man himself,” a dredger who was arrested on the water said.
Members of the task force pursued the dredgers and arrested three of them in the operation after they had attempted to run from the taskforce.
Two of them admitted having traveled from Volta Region to the West to man a boat there.
The other claims to have gone there to help them pack their machines out of the place.
One Chan fan costs, at least, GH¢15,000 but illegal miners dare to acquire them to dredge for gold in rivers.
Members of the Taskforce had to pull the Chang fa boats to the bank of the river for destruction.
A resident, Yaw Antwi told reporters that: “They came to this place on the dredging boats. We asked them to leave but they won’t. We reported them to the taskforce at Prestea but when they heard of their coming they left and returned to continue the activity.”
The presence of the machines stretches along the river for as far as the eye can see.
They are operational all-week, except on Fridays.
Daily dredging of the water bed by many groups has caused the river to lose its natural clean look to deep brown.
Now, Ankobrah which is the main source of water for the people of Container and Wiawso, is virtually unusable.
Those who have no options have to fetch the water and allow it to settle before they drink.
Others buy sachet water or resort to ponds and other unwholesome sources as alternatives.
“When I moved here, I was using the Ankobrah for everything but I can’t do so anymore. Those who still fetch from it use alum to purify it,” he added.
About 201 engines were destroyed at Wiawso and Container, after some had been dismantled on the first day at Himann.
Suspects arrested, together with six pumping machines and motorbikes seized in the operation, were handed over to police.
Leader of the Task Force, Bresi Andoh is saddened at the level of pollution of the river.
“The destruction here is too bad. We know the job is huge but we will finish it. We will sweep them from the river,” he added.
After hours of pursuing the illegal miners and their equipment, the overwhelmed but exhausted task force had to retreat for the day.