News about the arrest of eight persons suspected of illegal mining on the Ankobra River in the Western Region is worrying. Equally disturbing is the revelation by the Nzema East Municipal Police Commander that the yellowish colour of the river was ample evidence that galamsey activities were persistent in spite of the ban and subsequent war declared against it.
While success has been registered in other theatres of galamsey activities, the illegality persists in some parts of the country. Those who have not abandoned the trade entirely are engaged in the illegality underground: indeed below the radar of the security agents. This makes it rather difficult tracking.
It is also instructive the disclosure from the Police Commander that the security personnel would need the cooperation of members of the communities in which the youth and others engage in the illegality.
The security personnel deployed to police the galamsey sites and to prevent those involved in it from continuing to degrade the environment cannot achieve much without relying upon the cooperation of members of the communities who are the persons who know where such activities are taking place.
The day and night patrols are important but cannot dwarf the understanding and cooperation of members of the communities who know the illegal miners and their underground modus operandi.
The security personnel are not magicians and would therefore be unable to function effectively if they are not fed with such vital intelligence information by whistleblowers living in the communities where the illegal miners operate.
It is our take therefore that we should not limit the anti-galamsey war to the military action. There should be a clearly designed programme to win minds so that all can be brought onboard.
When people of the communities in which galamsey is endemic understand the effects of the illegality, they would proffer ready information to the relevant agents for the necessary action to be undertaken.
It is clear from what the Nzema East Police Commander said that the Ankobra River is not completely rid of galamsey mining. We should therefore change the template in our war against the illegality so that total success can be won against the crooks.
A few days ago, one of the FM radio stations in Accra complained about what they claimed was credible information suggesting that there are instances when some security personnel engaged in ‘Operation Vanguard’ leak operational or restricted information to the galamseyers.
This is very serious information which the top hierarchy of the Police should take up seriously especially since the fingers were pointed at the cops within the security coalition.
With inadequate cooperation emanating from members of the communities and some cops becoming sellouts, Operation Vanguard can only achieve occasional successes not on the level we expect – given the efforts the President has put in it.
We are therefore calling on the authorities related to the operation to probe the allegation with a view to bringing defaulters to book. We cannot afford to lose the galamsey war.