Sand winners at Keta are now carrying out their nefarious activities in the night to avoid arrest.
This is seriously negating efforts by the government to address the problem of persistent tidal waves invasion of the area.
The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, expressed concern over the situation when he paid a courtesy call on the Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa at his office in Ho last Thursday, as part of his three-day duty tour of the region.
He said the trend had opened the area to severe tidal invasions with subsequent humanitarian crisis on epic proportions.
Dr Kokofu called for concerted efforts to deal with the menace before the sea claimed Keta completely.
Heavy duty equipment
The sand winners, who operated with heavy-duty trucks and other equipment, he revealed, had damaged a vast portion of the beach at Keta in the past few months.
The EPA executive director warned that the agency had taken a firm stance to deal ruthlessly and swiftly with the people behind the illegal sand winning business, who he said were driven by their gluttony for money to deprive people of their land.
It also emerged during the discussion with the regional minister that timber racketeers were also depleting the forest at night at Tsyome-Sabadu in the North Dayi District, with impunity.
Members of the ‘Timber Mafia’ are said to convey their booty out of the reserve unnoticed in very devious ways, before transporting them to the urban centres where they sell them for a fortune.
Dr Kokofu observed that the region, with its resources and natural settings, was ideal for echo-tourism and the tapping of that potential depended largely on the protection of the environment.
For his part, Dr Letsa said a task force had been set up to fight the activities of those who were degrading the environment.
According to him, two illegal sand winners had so far been arrested and were due in court for trial.
Dr Letsa said the regional coordinating council would work hand in hand with the EPA to deal with the sand and timber racketeers in the region.
The Volta Regional Director of the EPA, Hope Smith Lomotey, said the agency was non-partisan and would not compromise on its duty to protect the environment to ensure that perpetrators of environmental crimes faced the full rigours of the law.
Dr Kokofu’s tour also took him to the Seven Seas Salt Mining Factory at Adina, the Diamond Cement Factory at Aflao and the Diamond Solar Salt Factory at Atiteti.
He also visited the Brazil Agro Business Group Rice Farm and Factory at Dabala and the Iribov West Africa Plant Tissue Culture Project at Sogakope.