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GAF maps out strategy to tackle ‘galamsey’

BY: Daniel Kenu
Brigadier-General Joseph Aphour — the General Officer Commanding the Central Command
Brigadier-General Joseph Aphour — the General Officer Commanding the Central Command

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has mapped out new strategies, in collaboration with the Minerals Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to tackle activities of illegal miners in the country.

Details of the new strategies, which have not been disclosed, are being championed by the Central Command of the GAF in the Ashanti Region, the hub of illegal mining in the country.

In line with that, the command and its partners have begun stakeholder engagements through sensitisation programmes such as seminars.

One of such seminars was held in Kumasi last weekend to educate participants on the adverse effects of the heavy metal pollutants associated with uncontrolled small-scale mining on the environment.

It also discussed the role of district assemblies, traditional rulers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in checking the activities of small-scale miners in the communities.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Central Command, Kumasi, Brigadier-General Joseph Aphour, said the command, which had been part of the fight against illegal mining over the years, was scaling up its activities.

That, he said, was because there was still more work to be done to clamp down on the activities of illegal miners to save water bodies and the environment from further destruction.

Significance

The Assistant Manager, Small-Scale Mining and Industrial Minerals of the Minerals Commission, Mr Eric Bukari, said the programme was to help the security agencies keep abreast of evolving trends in galamsey practice and how to check the activities.

He said the commission was prepared to share information and internal strategies with relevant stakeholders to help stem the tide.

He further called on individuals and groups to volunteer information on the operations of galamseyers in their respective communities to enable the commission and the security agencies to track and arrest perpetrators of the menace.

He said currently, the commission had increased its district offices to 13, as well as opened 18 satellite and five inspectorate offices for people to volunteer information on the activities of illegal miners.

Mr Bukari appealed to people who wanted to engage in small-scale mining to go through the proper procedure to obtain the necessary documentation to operate responsibly.

Effects

Despite efforts by the government in the fight against illegal mining practices, the people, especially the youth, are still engaged in it in areas such as Manso Abore and Tontonkrom in the Amansie District in the Ashanti region.

The Ghana Water Company has said the illegal activities had contributed to the pollution of water sources with mercury and heavy metals across the country, raising the cost of water treatment and leading to water shortages.