By Maxwell Nkansah
The Minority in Parliament has described as laughable the Lands and Natural Resources Minister’s surprise at the scale of illegal mining activity in Ghana.
“Why will anyone be surprised when it is clear that there were no practical actions to save our lands after the several expensive conferences the government organized?” the minority said in a statement.
It noted that it had previously raised concerns about illegal mining before it gained national attention.
“Twice this year, the minority, through the Mines and Energy Committee, drew the attention of the government to the relapse in their fight against galamsey.”
“We called on the ministers responsible to wake up from their long-drawn sleep and save our lands from selfish galamsay operators.”
The Minority maintains that the passivity of the government has allowed illegal mining to continue “with known government party supporters busily sinking machines into lands all over, including state reserved areas, polluting our fresh waters and destroying farmlands.”
“The ease with which private citizens, many of foreign background, plunge into our lands and ravage them under this regime is very worrying. It justifies why many citizens and civil society groups express worry about the future of our country.
Stop the deception in the fight against illegal mining and get serious about protecting our lands and waters: Minority Statement, 1 October 2022
The Daily Graphic, on September 30th, 2022, reported a visit by the Minister of Lands to some galamsey sites in the Eastern Region.
To our ultimate surprise, the Minister appeared surprised at the unmeasurable destruction of the land and the environment by the Galamsey operators. We recall how the President, Nana Ado Danquah Akufo Ado, boasted about getting the right minister to do a job which we are completely sure he did not intend to do.
Before his announcement of the new Minister, whose competence we have no doubt about, Ghanaians had been overwhelmed and critical of the collaborative destruction of our wet and dry lands across the country during Nana Addo’s first four-year term.
As usual, this regime’s deceptive promises and sweet words were used to calm the unsuspecting Ghanaians, pointing to a new policy on galamsey.
Two years into that “new policy” direction on Galamsey, the Minister will fly to the same galamsey sites he promised to salvage to see a more devastating, more painfully destroyed landscape and appear surprised, pleading with the Ghanaian people to bear with this mediocre policy approach.
The minority, through the Mines and Energy Committee, brought the government’s attention to a relapse in their fight against galamsey twice this year. We called on the ministers responsible to wake up from their long-drawn sleep and save our lands from selfish galamsay operators.
They kept their sleepy mood and allowed the destruction to continue with known government party supporters busily sinking machines into lands all over, including state reserved areas, polluting our fresh waters and destroying farmlands.
Even as we worry about the present circumstances and the laughable surprise by the Minister, many more galamsey operations are going on, known to the government and intentionally ignored by its agents! What fight did the President refer to when he announced to the people his determination to eliminate galamsey from our lands?
Why will anyone be surprised when it is clear that there were no practical actions to save our lands after the several expensive conferences the government organized targeted at addressing the challenges posed by illegal mining?
The ease with which private citizens, many of foreign background, plunge into our lands and ravage them under this regime is very worrying.
It explains why many citizens and civil society groups express worry about the future of our country. The free destruction of the land by miners of all classes has a damning effect on our cocoa production and our drinking water.
While at one point oil companies had to import fresh water from neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire, our long-time trading partners, the European Union, are also contemplating banning the purchase of Ghana cocoa because of the high contamination of mercury from irresponsible mining.
It, therefore, did not sound as surprising when a government-friendly civil society group, Occupy Ghana, issued a threat to take the government to court over its poor handling of what it calls the government’s “absolute incompetence, in the face of the brazen destruction of our lands and wanton poisoning of our water bodies.” All this demonstrates the poor handling of the unprecedented destruction of our lands.
The situation as we have it now should send signals to the government that not all is right about its pretense to be fighting to save our lands for a future generation.
While we observe what the next minister and his government will do after his visit and his surprise at seeing the vast destruction of our environment, which we see as only the tip of the iceberg, we urge the minister to wear sharper glasses and open his mind wider to take needed actions.
His subsequent actions will assist him in absolving himself of any blame as a collaborator or an incompetent urgent of the President in a fight for our lands being destroyed with impunity and annoying gusto.
We would like to see the government demonstrate responsibility by stopping this lawless conduct, prosecuting the defaulters, and ensuring that companies that are found to be engaged in any illegal mining process reclaim all the lands they have destroyed.