Galvanise chiefs in fight against galamsey
Illegal mining, popularly referred to as galamsey, poses a serious threat to human life and the environment.
In many communities in the country, wanton environmental destruction and pollution of water bodies are worrying developments of the activities of illegal mining.
While efforts have been made by government agencies, including security agencies and civil society organisations to clampdown on illegal mining, the negative impact of galamsey persists and remains burdensome, sometimes with fatal outcomes.
The media have over the years played crucial roles in highlighting issues related to small-scale illegal mining.
While there is unanimity that such illegal mining activities place many communities and human lives in dire risks, the quest for a sustained effort to address the crisis has proved quite elusive: government interventions through security agencies have often been reactive; usually when protests reach a crescendo following sustained media coverage of the menace but after a while, gains made are eroded as the miners resume their operations with gusto.
That was why President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently entreated traditional authorities to use their unique positions and influence to support the government in its fight against galamsey in the country.
He said the practice was a threat to the environment, food security and internal peace and, therefore, needed to be tackled holistically.
The President, therefore, urged traditional leaders to drive home the message that the environment was not for sale to people who destroyed its existence.
This is a call the Daily Graphic shares in as part of its advocacy to curb the galamsey menace in the country.
This is because, the deep-seated linkages between different power actors such as politicians and chiefs are the driving forces thwarting the fight against the canker.
The recent public criticisms have rejuvenated the fight against galamsey but the modalities of the fight and the socio-political power have jointly militated against the effectiveness of the fight.
It is, therefore, recommended that the government, through the Ministry of Lands Forestry and Mines, should involve the Minerals Commission, consult stakeholders and properly plan future programmes that aim to deal with the galamsey menace.
The government should engage all relevant stakeholders, including chiefs, local authorities, opinion leaders and community members, before the formulation and implementation of any programme aimed at fighting galamsey.
It is important to note that when chiefs and district assemblies are involved in initiatives aimed at fighting the menace, there will be a better commitment locally to the fight.
, the Minerals Commission should build the capacity of miners and operators in the informal sector on institutions and legal requirements governing the subsector and sustainable mining prior to granting mining licences.
It is in this regard that the Daily Graphic calls on policymakers to take advantage of the country’s political landscape to negotiate with chiefs to join the campaign against galamsey.
This can be achieved by motivating chiefs to become principal “galamsey-fighters”.
Since chiefs do not necessarily risk losing an election – as a result of stopping galamsey unlike the politicians, they can be tasked and encouraged to enforce the laws against illegal mining in their various communities.
Therefore, there should be an external body that supervises and audits their participation and performance in the fight against illegal mining.
While a better performance should warrant an award and other incentives, non-compliance must be accompanied with appropriate punitive measures.
This can be achieved when chiefs are motivated to invert the power bargain between themselves and the politicians for the betterment of their communities.
In the meantime, the paper also suggests that the confiscated excavators from the mining sites, which are usually burnt, should be stopped and rather sold to generate capital for reclamation of the lands.