Ghana Immigration Service cannot escape blame

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Inter-Ministerial Task Force has a very big job to execute in order to sanitise the mining sector.

There is a serious mess in the sector, caused largely by illegal miners, otherwise called galamsey operators.

The move by the government to introduce order into mining operations has compelled the Chinese government to initiate a dialogue process with the government to carry out the exercise with a human face.

We believe that our government is very mindful of the support that it receives from China.

But, Ghana cannot sacrifice its heritage for diplomatic expediency because the resource that attracts people to Ghana is not renewable.

It is for this reason that our mineral resources should be managed in a more sustainable way, so that generations yet unborn can also have their share.

Be that as it may, we are of the view that Ghana is faced with the destruction of its environment because of systemic failure.

Our institutions have failed to carry out their mandate, for which reason all manner of people enter our forests, take concessions to prospect for gold and diamond without regard for our laws.

There is a boom in the small-scale mining sector that has offered space to illegal miners because institutions such as the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) have failed to perform their statutory mandate effectively and efficiently.

Why do we say so?

The GIS is required to screen all foreigners entering Ghana and ensure that those without valid documents are not allowed in.

The GIS has reported that following the arrest of some foreigners engaged in illegal small-scale mining, it has repatriated 218 Chinese and 51 Nigeriens.

We know the country has a very loose border security so our neighbours in the West African sub-region can use unapproved routes to enter Ghana. However, it is not possible for other foreigners, including Chinese, to use unapproved routes. They will normally come through the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

We are told that most Chinese who come with airlines from the Far East take their visas at the KIA and the GIS cannot deny this because many Ghanaian travellers are living witnesses to this spectacle.

The Daily Graphic knows that in diplomatic circles, visas are obtained at entry and exit points, but this is done under strict conditions, otherwise the traveller is denied entry.

In Ghana, many foreigners abuse our proverbial hospitality and get away with disrespect for the rules.

Going forward, we think the GIS must apply the rules, so that all unwelcomed guests are prevented from entering Ghana to abuse our hospitality by engaging in illegal activities such as illegal mining and retail trading.

The GIS may not be the only state institution which is defaulting in the discharge of its mandate.

There are many other institutions, including the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the Ghana Tourism Authority, the Customs Division of the Ghana

Revenue Authority and National Security, that have reneged on their mandate to such an extent that businesses reserved for Ghanaians have been taken over by foreigners.

We should resolve now never to allow the breakdown of law and order, as happened in the mining sector, before initiating pragmatic action to address the problem.

What is worrying is that the moment the government initiated the action to deal with the havoc being caused by illegal mining by foreigners, the GIS jumped into the bandwagon to create the impression that it is in control of its mandate. The GIS is now engaged in fire fighting.

The Daily Graphic urges the government, as the appointing authority, to ensure that those who are paid from the public purse discharge their mandate effectively, otherwise they should be fired to safeguard our national interest.