Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor, MP, South Dayi Constituency

Minority in Parliament is demanding the immediate release of all companies undertaking mining activities and prospecting within the country’s forest reserves.

“We need to know the names of the entities, where they are operating – region by region, district by district. How long they have been operating? The duration of the license, they all matter,” Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor said.

According to the South Dayi MP, the Regional Security Council has been charged to ensure these operators comply with his directive, hence, the need to identify these said operating companies.

“How will the Regional Security Council presided by the Regional Minister be able to determine this if he doesn’t know that X mining company is processing in the Adaklu reserve. So we need further and better particulars on the names of the entities, where they are operating. It will also help the Assemblies who have administrative powers in managing the localities to be able to come in to assist,” he added.

In the view of the NDC MPs, government’s refusal to furnish the country with the list will reinforce beliefs that it is only paying lip service to the fight against illegal mining and the subsequent protection of the forest reserves.

This request comes in the wake of a directive by the Lands Minister, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, for all mining companies prospecting within the country’s forest reserves to cease operations within seven days.

Mr Dafeamekpor who spoke to JoyNews‘ Kwesi Parker-Wilson lauded the government’s initiative, however, indicated that the directive came in rather too late.

He pointed out that the laws of the land prohibit mining activities in forest reserves.

“I find the Minister’s statement not pragmatic enough. This is because he is a lawyer. He knows that we have statutory laws that prohibit mining in forest reserves and nature parks in this country. So it is in the first place unconscionable for the state as it were to grant mining or prospecting license to entities and individuals to go and mine in our forest reserves because of the nature of the reserves,” he said.

He also noted that over the past four years, Ghana Water Company Limited has lamented the high cost it incurs in treating water for consumption.

But current developments have made it almost impossible for the company “to treat the kind of water that is flowing through the water processing plant.”

“So it has become a matter of life and death, that is why the government thinks that coming out with this directive will be a first step in dealing with the matter.”

Mr Dafeamekpor intimated that the plea for an extension by mining operators to evacuate machinery from forest reserves must be declined.

“They should demonstrate why in trying to comply and demobilise out of sight, they are not able to do so in seven days. They should be able to make the effort so that if within the seven days you still have materials to evacuate, you can apply for an extension. But without taking the steps, without showing that you are also in a hurry to comply with the directive, you are asking for one month.

“Do you know how much they can do in one month? They can still work and do a lot of damage within thirty days and when you go and check on them, they would still say they still have thirty days to demobilise and evacuate from the site. If the person is still digging the ground, how are you going to stop him?” he added.