Control galamsey menace now

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The incident at Kyekyewere, near Dunkwa-on-Offin, is not the first time that illegal miners have been swallowed by mining pits. And it will not be the last.

Reports of galamsey pits caving in and killing illegal miners abound in the newspapers and on social media platforms, but these mine fatalities do not seem to deter illegal miners.

Funny tales exist  that the more the mines cave in and kill the miners, the more gold becomes available underground.

Gradually, galamsey operations have become a national crisis. If those operations do not lead to the destruction of the environment, they claim the precious lives of able-bodied persons whose services are required in nation building.

In other instances, the gang of galamsey operators engage the law enforcement agencies in battles over concessions. The security agencies have also moved to water bodies to stop the miners from polluting rivers, as happened recently when two Naval officers lost their lives in the River Pra in the Western Region.

Even though the big mining companies also degrade the environment, the uncontrolled activities of illegal miners have opened deep trenches across the length and breadth of our country, thereby impacting negatively on agricultural productivity and water bodies.

Anytime we have raised issues about the environmental degradation caused by mining, we have referred to towns such as Akwatia, Obuasi, Tarkwa and Prestea as manifetations of the negative effects of mining on our communities.

The Daily Graphic thinks it is about time the country put in place structures to deal with the menace of galamsey operations and, indeed, mining in general on the environment.

We appreciate the difficulties facing the government in trying to deal decisively with the challenge because galamsey operations offer job opportunities to the youth.

Therefore, the state or the government should provide alternative livelihood programmes for the galamsey operators before they are stopped completely.

The situation must explain why the government allowed some form of artisanal mining in the mining communities to enable the regulatory authorities to regulate small-scale mining and reduce its effects on the environment.

It has become very difficult to control galamsey operations in recent times because small-scale miners who have obtained concessions have invited scores of galamsey operators onto their concessions.

The destruction thus becomes very widespread and very difficult for the district assemblies and other regulators to control.

Yesterday, the nation was hit by another mine disaster at Kyekyewere, a predominantly farming community near Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region, where 17 able-bodied people were killed in a collapsed illegal gold mining pit.

Reports said the calamity was an annual ritual, as pits collapse every year, killing a number of people.

The Daily Graphic calls on the bodies charged with the responsibility to control mining in the country to sit up and ensure that all mining concessions conform to laid-down regulations.

This latest accident should not be treated as business as usual because the pit owner must answer for the loss of precious lives.

The Daily Graphic believes that the only way to ensure order in the mining sector is to make those who break laid-down regulations to pay for their actions or inaction, so that the punishment will help halt the growing impunity among galamsey operators.