It looks like sanity is prevailing as far as the ongoing fight against illegal mining activities (popularly called galamsey) is concerned. The taskforce deployed to combat illegal mining – “Operation Vanguard” – has finally found its feet as it digs into its task.
There were pockets of initial challenges, including skirmishes with members of the taskforce but things seem to be normalising.
According to the Operation Vanguard, about 294 illegal miners have so far been arrested since its deployment to stem the canker.
The arrests were made in the Western, Ashanti and Eastern Regions, which are the operational areas of the taskforce. The spokesperson of the taskforce, Major Pabi, provided data to back up his assertion that Operation Vanguard was getting on well. He said just over a month into the operation, they have been able to evacuate over 60 earth-moving equipment from illegal mining sites.
That is good news and members of the task force should be commended.
What is worrying is the fact that there are still people in this country who, when given the chance, would still be doing galamsey despite the fact that their operations are a menace to the entire environment, particularly pollution of our water bodies, thereby threatening our entire existence in this country.
Major Pabi said, “In the areas where the illegal miners operate, they have bought phones for other people who serve as informants so when our vehicles are passing, they will inform the people on the field that we are coming so they should run away”.
This is very despicable. It shows how callous some people are to the environment and ready to sacrifice general good for personal interest.
The inroads made by the taskforce are yielding positive results. As we speak, some of our water bodies are beginning to come back to life. People along River Birim for instance, are testifying about how the river has improved dramatically since the fight against galamsey began.
The Ghana Water Company in the affected regions are also testifying about how they are now spending less to treat more water in their respective areas. It is a very good sign and the taskforce should be given all the necessary support to nip this dangerous practice in the bud.
Our humble appeal to the government is for the Attorney General to expedite action on cases of people who have been arrested for engaging in galamsey. We are by no means suggesting a kangaroo trial of a sort, but a fair trial in which the final verdict will serve as a deterrent to would-be culprits.
We are also pleading with the government to continue to build a robust economy that accepts everybody’s contribution so that there will be overall creation of wealth in order to dissuade people from engaging in illegal mining.
There should also be alternative livelihood programmes to absorb the army of galamsey operators that the ban is offloading into the society. Most of these galamsey operators claim that the lack of jobs is forcing them into this unpatriotic practice. If the opportunities are there for everybody, there would be no need to destroy the environment indiscriminately in the name of making money.
So far, Operation Vanguard is on course and we can only hope for the best for them in particular and the country as a whole.