Five speedboats have been deployed to help clamp down on illegal mining activities on water bodies in the country. The fully fitted 6.5-metre rigid-hulled inflatable boats, capable of hitting top speed beyond 100 kilometres per hour (km/h) or 60 miles per hour (mph), on average, will be operated by the security agencies and river guards to patrol water bodies at all times.
Speedboats are engine-powered and designed to go faster than manually propelled boats.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, who commissioned the boats at Beposo, near Sekondi in the Western Region, said they would be deployed on the Ankobra and the Pra rivers in the region, the Birim River in the Eastern Region and the Black Volta in the Savannah Region.
Those rivers are heavily polluted by galamsey operators, in spite of the designation of water bodies as ‘red zones’ for mining.
The minister urged the security agencies to flush out all miscreants who continued to engage in illegal mining on water bodies.
"With these boats, Operation Halt II will continue to operate all day and all night to rid our water bodies of any form of illegal mining," he said.
He also expressed worry over the fact that in spite of measures the government had implemented to deal with galamsey activities over the past six years, the menace still persisted with impunity.
"We have observed that there are still some recalcitrant nation-wreckers who seek only their selfish interests, at the expense of the national interest, by conniving with others, both locals and foreigners, to outwit our security agencies to pollute our rivers.
"Indeed, there are some who have resorted to mining at night with armed guards when security persons have finished their operations. We will come at them," the minister said.
He added that regional ministers and their regional security councils had been engaged to make the fight against galamsey a top priority.
"The fight against illegal mining must be a national concern and I call on all living everywhere, particularly communities along river bodies who bear the brunt of these illegalities, to be vigilant and support us by reporting those involved in these activities," Mr Jinapor added.
The acting Paramount Chief of the Shama Traditional Area, Nana Kwamena Wienu II, described the commissioning of the boats as a major step towards stemming the galamsey menace.
He urged security persons and river guards tasked to use the boats to put the national interest first in the discharge of their duties.