President of the Concerned Small Scale Miners Association, Michael Peprah, believes the new measures employed by the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry to fight ‘galamsey’ are short-term and would hardly yield desirable results.

Speaking on Top Story, he stated that the measures including the burning of excavators and patroling mining sites with helicopters and drones have been employed in the past with the achievements short-lived adding that people went back to mining illegally after the military left the sites.

Mr Peprah explained that it is essential not to only think of medium and long-term solutions that would aid in solving the problem but also avoid using the same approach in the past while expecting different results.

“We need to try and find the head-on solutions to the problem. This is not the first time we have burnt people’s excavators. In 2013 they burnt over 200 excavators, did it deter people from going back to work? No. So it means this is not the solution to the problem.”

“If we could recall we bought about 3 million worth of drones to try and fight this problem, using them to patrol our water bodies. Ask yourself if that thing brought about the needed solution. I heard the defense minister talking about using helicopters to be patrolling, how long can we sustain this? So it means this one is a short-term solution we are trying to use but at the end of the day we should always think about the medium and long term.”

He told Evans Mensah that the Ministry must engage and educate sub-chiefs, the district committees, the assemblies and the town folks on the need to fight illegal mining.

Mr Peprah explained that many people living in the hinterlands sometimes have no idea the miners in the communities are there illegally.

Thus, it would be good to sensitise them in this fight against ‘galamsey’, he said, adding that if these people will support the government, the fight against illegal mining will be won with ease.

“We have used the military since 1988 and it has not yielded any results, why do we keep on using the same approach to get a different result?” he quizzed.

His comment comes after the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry revealed more than 100 mining equipment have been destroyed adding any more equipment found on a site will be destroyed.

An assault team from the Ghana Armed Forces has also been established to aid in the fight, the Ministry has stated.

Mr Peprah reacting to the Ministry’s announcement stated that the Mining Act 995 already has directives on what should be done with seized equipment on mining sites.

Hence, he believes no good will come from destroying the equipment adding that the Ministry should not create different problems while trying to solve another.

“When you burn these excavators, what happens to those dug uncovered pits left behind. The law states clearly that any equipment that will be seized should be confiscated to the state.”

“So in using this one to serve as a deterrent for people engaged in galamsey, why can’t we preserve the equipment and use it for reclamation purposes? If we have done wrong in the past why can’t we make sure the right thing is done.”

He explained that people under the care of seized mining equipment that goes missing could be punished to ensure the fight goes on.

Meanwhile, the Ministry on April 21, issued a directive to suspend reconnaissance or prospecting activities in all forest reserves across the country. The directive takes full effect on Friday, April 30.

The suspension of reconnaissance came to light after it was revealed that a number of individuals and companies unlawfully acquire licences under the pretext of undertaking reconnaissance or prospecting in Forest Reserves and yet proceed to engage in illegal mining in such forest reserves, with adverse consequences on the environment.

A press statement signed by Deputy Minister-Designate, Benito Owusu-Bio, indicated that the government has deployed security officials to specific areas in order to apply the law and sanction individuals who infringe the law.

“Regional Security Councils across the country, which are already mandated to enforce all the laws, regulations and/or directives in the mining sector, have been put in readiness to ensure enforcement of these directives.” 

Also on Friday, April 30, Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul says President Akufo-Addo will not hesitate to prosecute any minister of state arrested for engaging in illegal mining activities.

He also added that security officials who also engage in the act in any way will also not be spared and face full rigorous of the law.