The government’s resolve to end illegal mining has been given further impetus with the deployment of the first batch of security men to three regions considered to be the most affected areas.
Dubbed “Operation Vanguard”, the 400 security men made up of personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the Police Service have been divided into three groups to cover the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions.
The teams have been tasked to stay at their assigned regions until all forms of illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey, have been stopped and unauthorised mining pits permanently destroyed.
To make their work very efficient, the anti-galamsey task force that was trained at the Bundase Training Camp in the Ningo Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region has been equipped and fully armed.
The task force has also been supplied with new patrol vehicles and other logistics to enable members to perform their operations with urgency and speed.
While at post, members will be provided with accommodation and food in addition to a monthly allowance to boost their morale in the delivery of their assigned task.
Just the start
Addressing members at its launch in Accra, the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Illegal mining, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, said the taskforce was expected to remain in the affected areas until the degraded lands and rivers had been restored and the reforestation programme undertaken.
Thereafter, he said, another team to be made up of personnel of the Ghana Navy and Marine Police would be deployed to take up the monitoring of the major rivers and water bodies until illegal activities had been completely eradicated.
“This may take several months, perhaps years, but let no one think that this is going to be a nine-day wonder,” Prof. Frimpong Boateng said.
He said the deployment of the first batch of the anti-galamsey task force “is not the only thing the government plans to do to stop galamsey. We plan to deploy another task force to other regions in the next few months,” he said.
Professor Frimpong Boateng said the government would not retreat from its commitment to protect the country’s water bodies and environment and added that “if anybody thought we were joking, they should think again.”
He asked those who had vowed to resist any move by the government to halt galamsey to reconsider their stance as the fight against illegal mining would not be compromised.
“I heard some group of people in the Ashanti Region vowing to resist the task force. My only appeal to them is to use the right channel to make known their grievances instead of fighting the task force,” he advised.
Professor Frimpong Boateng stressed that the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Illegal mining put together by the government was ready and willing to do everything within its powers to halt galamsey.
Meanwhile, he has commended the Media Coalition against Galamsey for its relentless effort and campaign against illegal mining. “Without them, it would have been entirely difficult to get to where we are now,” he noted.
Earlier, the Defence Minister, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Obed Akwa, stressed the need for the entire population to allow the joint police and military anti-galamsey task force to work.
They warned that it would not go well with any person who would attempt to make the work of the task force difficult “because the nation and the government are behind it.”
Present at the ceremony were the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu; the Interior Minister, Mr Ambrose Dery, and the Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante-Apeatu.