A team of Obuasi natives paid a courtesy call to the Paramount Chief of the Adansi traditional area, Opagyakotwere Bonsra Afriyie II, the Adansihene in the USA on Sunday, September 24, 2023.

The respected Chief who used to live in Maryland, USA, and worked as a Certified United States Corporate Accountant is currently in the US for medical review. 

The team that visited the Chief included Edward Ennin (Former Obuasi MP), Samuel Aboagye (NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Obuasi East) and Dr. Solomon Owusu (Mining Consultant in USA). The purpose of the visit was to check on the Chief’s health, offer help if needed and use the opportunity to discuss certain concerning matters confronting the people from Adansi areas, particularly Obuasi.

According to the team, Obuasi is one of the top gold mining towns in Africa and the world at large but the town is far behind development with excruciating poverty faced by the people. Topics that were discussed included illegal mining (galamsey) issues, youth unemployment, infrastructure deficit and lack of benefits from gold mining activities in the Adansi traditional areas. 

On the youth unemployment, Hon. Samuel Aboagye expressed concern about how the Adansi youth are denied employment opportunities from AngloGold Mining company, UMA Mining Contracting company and other subcontractors while people from the big cities like Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, etc., get employed to work with these companies. In his view, qualified Adansi natives should be given the first employment priority at all levels of the organizations before anyone else.

Again, Mr Aboagye raised concern about the frustrations that small-scale miners in the Adansi areas face in their activities that put food on their family tables while the foreigners, particularly the Chinese illegal miners pollute waterbodies and degrade lands with impunity. He wondered if the government was aware of the illegal mining activities operated by foreigners in Obuasi and its catchment areas.

As part of the discussions, Mr Ennin who is currently a board member of AngloGold Ashanti Mining Company and former Obuasi MP disclosed that the company relinquished about 70% of its entire concession to the government to be given to the small-scale miners for their operations. Unfortunately, these concessions ended up in the hands of some top government officials who are benefitting from them, instead of demarcating them among the small-scale miners as planned.

Explaining the constraints involved in the youth unemployment issues, Hon. Ennin stressed the effective structure that AngloGold has put in place to ensure that Adansi natives are considered for job opportunities. According to him, the company has issued resident evidence forms to the local and traditional authorities, purposely to authenticate job applicants to ensure that those considered are truly qualified natives from the Adansi areas. With those forms in place, Hon. Ennin was of the view that Adansi residents should rather blame their local and traditional leaders, if they suspect job opportunities offered to nonnatives.

Commenting on the general mining issues, Dr. Solomon Owusu raised concern on why Obuasi and its catchment areas haven’t been developed from the proceeds from mining activities. According to him, active mining operations have been ongoing in the area since 1800s and yet, Obuasi and the surrounding mining localities lack basic amenities such as good roads, good drinking water, constant electricity, good sanitation facilities, standardized health facilities, among others. He further expressed his concerns about the alarming rate of foreigners’ invasion into the small-scale mining sector and gold bullion trading, which are meant for only Ghanaian citizens, according to Mineral and Mining Act 2006, Act 703.

On illegal mining, Dr. Owusu pleaded with the Paramount Chief to resist the water pollution and land degradation caused by the foreign nationals, particularly the Chinese nationals around Obuasi and its catchment areas. He continued to plead with Nana to discipline the subchiefs who demarcate lands to foreigners to operate illegal mining, since they allow all the destructions to happen in their respective localities. He stressed that there is no way a foreigner can operate galamsey on a concession without the knowledge of the chief who controls that portion of the land.

Concerning punishment for illegal miners, Dr. Owusu expressed his disappointment in Ghanaian leaders about the way foreigners who engage in illegal mining are left off the hook after their arrests while Ghanaian illegal miners serve prison sentences. In his opinion, the newly amended Minerals and Mining Act 2019, Act 995 prescribes penalties for minimum imprisonment terms for citizens and non-citizens who engage in illegal mining activities.

Speaking on the legal issues surrounding the illegal mining activities and referring to the act, Dr. Owusu made it clear to Nana that per the Act, citizens who engage in illegal mining risk a prison sentence of 15 to 20 years and non-citizens risk a jail term of 20 to 25 years. Hence, Dr. Owusu found it surprising why none of the Chinese illegal miners is imprisoned but lots of Ghanaian galamseyers are caged to rot in jail. He proposed that the government should minimize the intense bureaucratic procedures used to acquire small-scale mining licenses to encourage the illegal miners to register into the mainstream.

Dr. Owusu again drew the Chief’s attention that small-scale mining can be conducted in environmentally friendly manner to minimize or avoid water pollution, hence he couldn’t fathom why the government cannot come up with effective policies and measures to implement good mining practices to save current and future generations from life-threatening diseases such as liver diseases, kidney diseases, lung diseases, heart diseases, etc., caused by illegal mining activities.

Responding to the illegal mining issues in the area, the Adansihene spoke in a hoarse voice and expressed his disappointment in the government representatives in Adansi as well as the Ghana Police Service. He disclosed how some of the government appointees and the police condone and defend illegal miners in the area. Nana cited a recent case on August 5, 2023 when members of a taskforce established by the Adansi Traditional Council were openly attacked and brutally assaulted by galamseyers at Adansi Ampunyasi.

Surprisingly, the police arrested the taskforce members and their branded taskforce vehicle, insisting that they were armed robbers and instead, freed the illegal miners. It took prompt intervention of the Paramount Chief’s lawyer to save the taskforce members from going to jail. The branded taskforce vehicle damaged by the illegal miners is still parked at the police premises. This matter is still pending at the police station and has not been processed for legal proceedings at the law court.

Expressing his dispiritedness and dismay about the behaviour of government representatives, the Paramount Chief disclosed a recent letter he received from the Regional Minister, Mr. Simon Osei Mensah through the Adansi North District Assembly, indicating that traditional authorities should stop all taskforce operations and instead, report any galamsey activity to the District Security Council (DISEC). According to the celebrated Chief, the letter alone is enough evidence to justify how the hands of the traditional leaders are tied concerning galamsey issues.

Notwithstanding the fact that some government institutions and appointees sabotage the efforts by the traditional leaders to execute their duties as the custodians of the lands, the learned Chief welcomed all ideas from the team, showered his blessings upon them and promised to embrace new technological innovations that can help in creating jobs, addressing the galamsey issues and developing Adansi and Ghana as a whole. 

Concerning the allegation on certification of job application forms for nonnatives by the local leaders, Nana assured the team about his willingness to initiate investigations into the matter and ensure that Adansi natives benefit from job opportunities in the area.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.