Convener of the Media Coalition against Galamsey, Kenneth Ashigbey has applauded the Lands and Natural Resources Minister for directing individuals and companies engaged in prospecting in forest reserves to suspend such activities.

Speaking on Top Story, Mr Ashibey said that suspending the activities will give the Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, a chance to investigate and review the companies to find out whether they are only prospecting as they should or have stepped into illegal territory.

“We’ve heard him speak and talk since he’s been minister but we’ve seen him act and the action is a very responsible one. We all need to support the Minister because a lot of the people behind these activities are the so-called untouchables.”

Mr Ashigbey explained that those found culpable of destroying the forest and water bodies must be made to face the law.

“Fortunately for us the Minerals and Mining Law as amended has very punitive sanctions.I have heard the minister talk about the fact that they are going to let the laws work, this is a very good way of doing it, ” he said.

According to Mr Ashigbey, Abu Jinapor through this act has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that the lands and forest reserves are protected.

His comments follow a directive from the Lands Minister to individuals and companies engaged in prospecting in forest reserves with or without legal authorisation to halt.

Samuel Abdulai Jinapor’s decision follows the revelation 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 its obvious adverse consequences on the environment.

He further directed the Minerals Commission of Ghana to immediate suspend acceptance, processing or recommending the grant, including renewal or extension of reconnaissance and prospecting licences in Forest Reserves.

Some people have questioned the rationale behind asking companies with licenses to also to stop work.

Mr Ashigbey told Emefa Apawu that some of the companies who have been given licences to prospect are engaged in activities beyond their mandate.

“One of them is the issue that JoyNews’ Erastus Asare Donkor followed. Even if you look at the writ that Heritage Imperial filed, they conceded that they are mining.”

“We wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing a search about them and the EPA was very categorical that the permit allowed the company to engage in only exploration activities. But if you see the activities of a lot of these companies a lot of them are going beyond just prospecting, so it is good that the Minister has done this,” he said on Joy FM.

To get back their license, the companies will have to justify if they were truly engaged in activities allowed by their license permits and nothing more, he added.

Mr Ashigbey reiterated the need for Ghanaians including the media to support the Minister in his quest to ensure the forest reserves and water bodies are protected.

“The media coalition will definitely support the minister and I think this is the right action that has been taken, ” he stated.