Some personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) have burnt down 14 tipper trucks and an excavator used for illegal sand winning activities at Afa Yilli, near Dalun, in the Kumbungu District in the Northern Region.
The reason for the action by the military on Saturday, March 3, 2018 was not clear, but investigations by the Daily Graphic indicated that the destruction of the trucks was part of a nationwide exercise to rid the country of illegal mining activities which included sand winning, by an ‘Operation Vanguard’ taskforce.
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Sand winning activities have been going on at areas near the Dalun raw water intake site over the years. The exercise was therefore, also aimed at protecting the Nawuni River, which is a tributary of the White Volta, against drying up as it serves as the raw water intake point for the Dalun water treatment plant that supplies potable water to the Tamale Metropolis, Savelugu, Kumbungu, Tolon and its surrounding areas.
It was also alleged that some Ghanaians and Chinese nationals involved in ‘galamsey’ activities in the Southern part of the country have moved their equipment to the Dalun area where they are hiding behind sand winning to mine gold.
When contacted, the Northern Regional Minister who is also the Chairman of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), Mr Salifu Saeed, said the exercise was being conducted nationwide and that it was carried out by the Operation Vanguard Taskforce based on intelligence.
Similar exercise was also carried out in Bole where illegal mining is rife.
Reaction by Kumbungu MP
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbungu, Mr Ras Mubarak, has described the incident as uncalled for and an affront to the rule of law.
He claimed that information he had gathered indicated the armed military personnel tortured some of the drivers of the trucks who initially resisted the exercise.
The mobile phones of the drivers were also seized to prevent them from recording the action.
The Northern Regional Security Council in December last year issued a one-week ultimatum to persons engaged in sand winning activities at the Nawuni raw water intake area to vacate the place or face the full rigours of the law.
The measure was to prevent a looming water crisis in parts of the region, including Tamale.
Illegal sand winning activities in the area are said to be posing danger to the Nawuni intake point.