The Christian Council of Ghana has said the leadership of the Christian Ecumenical Bodies in Ghana will on Monday present a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo over the menace of illegal mining and its devastating effects on the environment.
The petition is to compel the government to swiftly intervene to end the destruction of Ghana’s forest reserves and water bodies through the activities of illegal miners.
The Christian body has said it is deeply concerned about the devastation that illegal mining (galamsey) has caused the country, and the negative health and economic effect it will have on the country's future.
Already, on Friday, they paid a working visit to some galamsey sites in the Eastern Region to see at first hand how the menace was affecting the environment.
Ahead of the presentation of the petition on Monday, October 17, 2022, the Christian leaders would address a press conference at the Assemblies of God Church Head Office at Osu in Accra, to remind Ghanaians of their mandate to keep the environment and be responsible stewards.
“We wish to remind Ghanaians of our mandate to keep the environment and be responsible stewards of same,” the General Secretary of the Christian Council, Rev Dr Cyril Fayose has indicated.
They have therefore called on natural resources, civil society, political parties, security agencies, and traditional leaders to be part of the programme
“It is our hope and prayer that Ghanaians will stand up against galamsey and preserve our environment from further destruction,” they added.
Church leaders tour galamsey sites
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Among the delegation of church leaders that toured the illegal mining sites on a fact-finding mission to observe at firsthand the level of devastation perpetrated by the galamsey operators were the Chairman of The Church of Pentecost and 2nd Vice Chairman of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Apostle Eric Nyamekye, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, Most Rev Dr Paul Boafo and the immediate-past Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong Manso who is also the President of the GPCC.
The others were Rev. Cyril Fayose, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Apostle A.N.Y. Kumi-Larbi, General Secretary of The Church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Kingsley Darko, Vice President, Council for Independent Churches and Apostle Samuel Antwi, Executive Council Member of The Church of Pentecost and Former GPCC General Secretary.
As part of the tour, the team made a quick stop at Boadua to pay a courtesy call on Osabarima Oware Asare Pronko III, the Chief of Apinamang, one of the towns in the Eastern Region adversely affected by the activities of illegal mining.
Nana Asare Pronko, a passionate environmentalist, and his elders received the team at his eco-tourism resort and wildlife reserve, which he had deliberately (albeit ironically) named “The Beauty of Nature.”
The chief admitted that illegal mining is prevalent in his community and lamented about how the non-scientific approach of the miners is destroying vegetation and waterbodies.
“They do not even fill the mining pits after they are done, and this makes it difficult to reclaim the land for productive use. I have done everything but to no avail. I am now helpless!” he said.
The chief commended the religious leaders for undertaking a good initiative to help in the fight against galamsey and advised them not to allow anyone to discourage or intimidate them. He also pledged his support towards fighting the environmental menace.
“Why should we allow this (illegal mining) to go on? If other chiefs are part of it then not me – I refuse to be part of this!” he said.
Apinamang galamsey site
At Apinamang, the delegation visited an active illegal mining site where they were met with abandoned pits, muddy water (polluted) and destroyed cocoa farm lands. The sorry state of the land and sheer level of devastation ignited deep emotions from the team who soon began to sing patriotic songs.
Addressing the press, Most Rev Dr. Paul Boafo reminded Christians in Ghana about the duty they have to take care of God’s creation and ensure that people living on the earth prosper.
He called on all stakeholders (chiefs, government, church, institution etc.) to come on board in order to seek a non-partisan and lasting solution to the galamsey endemic.
“This is a collective fight, and all Ghanaians should come on board and let’s fight galamsey. We need to adopt a non-partisan approach in dealing with this problem, just as we did with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rev. Paul Frimpong, on his part, called on all responsible governmental agencies to rise and act in order to save the dire situation.
“My heart is burning. This is an absolute disaster and disgrace to the country. We must not entertain any political party that supports galamsey,” he said.
Father Dieudonne Davor, who represented the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, at the tour, said that the alarming rate of the destruction calls for an urgent action, and therefore, reiterated that government must not relent in its effort to clamp down on the activities of illegal miners.
Dr. George Manful, an environmentalist, retired diplomat and Environmental advisor to the Assemblies of God Church, expressed disbelief at the unimaginable proportions of destruction caused by the activities of illegal miners, describing it as “environmental rape.”
“I have followed the issue of galamsey for quite a long time. Formerly, the perpetuators used to mine with pickaxes, now they are using excavators! This tells how much the practice has escalated,” he said.
“A complex problem”
Apostle Eric Nyamekye bemoaned the lack of political will in the fight against the galamsey threat.
“We have all the environmental laws on paper, what we lack is the will to enforce them. Leaders must lead, they must enforce laws otherwise human beings, by their nature, will always go way ward,” he stated.
He said that the complex nature of the issue calls for a multifaceted approach in coming up with an effective intervention to address illegal mining in the country.
He, however, stated that “Galamsey is a human problem so human beings can solve it. We should not leave to the politicians; all stakeholders must come together to fix it.
Mother loses cocoa farm
The delegation ended their tour at the house of 45-year-old Joyce Worwonyo. Joyce, a member of the Miremire Assembly of the Apinamang District of The Church of Pentecost is a victim of galamsey operation.
The mother of five is being ejected from her house after the landowner sold it to galamseyers.
According to her, the miners, who have warned her severally to evacuate the land, have destroyed her cocoa farm in just four months after beginning their operations. The activities of the miners had left a huge pit close to her house, thus endangering the lives of her relatives.
The galamsey menace
Galamsey has become a topical issue in Ghana in recent months following a resurgence in news reports on its continued negative impact on the environment, particularly the country’s water bodies.
The Ghana Water Company Limited has said that continuous destruction of water bodies through illegal mining is increasing the cost of water due to the rising cost of aluminum sulphate used for the treatment.
With additional files from Pentecost News