The President has said his government will not weaken its stance on illegal mining otherwise known as ‘galamsey’ fight and everyone found culpable irrespective of class or party affiliation will be dealt with.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said the threat posed to the country’s future by canker is grave, and government will not shirk its responsibilities in dealing with it.
Addressing Parliament on Thursday, he appealed to the Media Coalition not be daunted by the difficulties in its fight against galamsey.
“Government will not weaken its stance, and welcomes the continuous support of the Media Coalition,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo who said he will put his presidency on the line for stop the galamsey stated that, when his government came into office in January 2017, galamsey activities were rampant in many parts of the country.
“Our lands, forests and river bodies were being systematically degraded and polluted without any care. And this had been the case for several years.
“Indeed, the previous government had given up the fight against galamsey. We determined that this was an intolerable situation, and we owed it to generations yet unborn, to tackle the problem and save our environment,” he said.
Having been cheered by the support from a large part of the population that also recognised the danger posed by the degradation of the country’s lands and water bodies, and the needless deaths of young people, who were being buried alive in makeshift mining pits, the President told Parliament that he welcomed, in particular, the Media Coalition, which was formed in July 2017, that lent its support to the fight against galamsey.
“We started with the banning of all small-scale mining, and, after about a year of the campaign, we made some progress as some rivers showed signs of coming back to life.
“The University of Mines and Technology at Tarkwa took on the role of training local people in sustainable mining and by the time the ban on all small-scale mining was lifted last year, about 4,000 had received the training,” he said.
The President also recognised the work undertaken by Parliament to amend the Mining Act to raise the penalties for illegal mining, and prohibiting foreign nationals from participating in any way in small-scale mining.
Again, under the auspices of the Inter-Ministerial Committee Against Illegal Mining, President Akufo-Addo noted that the Alternative Livelihood Programme was formulated and implemented in 35 severely affected “galamsey” districts across the country.
With 500 youth, who were previously mainly engaged in illegal mining, having been trained and graduated in vocational and technical skills from Community Development Vocational and Technical Institutions, the President indicated that they were provided with start-up tools and equipment.
“An additional 607 youth are currently undergoing similar training, 240 of whom are in the Community Development Institutions, whilst 367 are attached to Master Craftsmen through an apprenticeship at the community level,” he said.
Describing Operation Vanguard as having been largely successful, even though problems still remain, President Akufo-Addo noted that mining with impunity on water bodies and in forest reserves has declined, and more than 4,000 miners have received training in sustainable mining.
“The number of individuals, dying in collapsed mining tunnels and pits in the few unauthorized locations left, has reduced by more than ninety percent (90%). Operation Vanguard has been particularly effective in helping to restore the order which has permitted the reopening of the famous Obuasi mine of Anglogold Ashanti,” the President added.
With the Community Mining Programme having been well received by the population, he stated that more than twenty-thousand (20,000) individuals are earning their incomes legitimately in the community mines in Akrofuom, Atwima Nwabiagya, Atwima Mponua, Adansi North, Amansie Central, Wassa Amenfi East and Wa East Districts.
Additionally, he explained that since the introduction of the Community Mining Programme, there have been no deaths due to the collapse of tunnels and pits.
Thus far, 12,000 “changfan” machines, that go on the river and scoop up the riverbed, were seized and destroyed on site.
“Some excavators were also seized, and a number of them have gone missing. The Police have arrested and charged some of the alleged culprits, and investigations are ongoing. No one involved will be shielded, no matter what their positions or political colours are,” he added.