Initially, there were success stories when the war on galamsey was launched. The media was awash with arrests of those polluting our waters. The water bodies themselves showed signs of recovery. The Birim, Pra and Offin rivers, the most polluted of water bodies in this country as a result of illegal mining, began to clear.
Officials of Ghana Water Company, for instance, were happy that much of the contaminated water, requiring heavy doses of chemicals, was clearing up. The arrest of the Chinese Queen of galamsey, known simply as Aisha to the ordinary Ghanaian, gave hope that the Chinese who were supplying equipment and chemicals for the illicit extraction of our gold would all be rounded up.
Then Aisha was released on bail in controversial circumstances. Now, no one hears of mass arrests anymore. Our water bodies have gone back to their bad ways. Some even appear to be more contaminated than before. Quite recently, fishermen from Shama, where the Pra River enters the sea, complained bitterly about the effect of the contaminated estuary of the river, which has drastically affected their business.
It looks like the galamsey menace is back with a bang, in spite of Operation Vanguard, the police-army co-operation, fighting the menace. Now, all sorts of appeals are being made to the authorities to lift the ban on illegal mining. The Chronicle is worried about this growing trend. It looks like those pushing for the lifting of the ban are more concerned about their personal interests than the good of the whole country.
Apart from destroying our water bodies and degrading the land, galamsey has given this nation a very bad name on the international circuit. The gold nature endowed this nation with has now become a curse.
We cannot sit down idle while miscreants endanger the lives of all Ghanaians. We will like to believe that one of the main reasons why galamsey operators are defying the authority of the state is that they know that the courts have slowed down unusually on matters pertaining to the illegal trade before the judiciary. The Chronicle is urging the Chief Justice to implore her men and women to be more strict on offenders.
The other day, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Joe Osei-Owusu, suggested that galamsey operators found polluting our water bodies should be shot on site. He was taken to the cleaners by people who think the Deputy Speaker was justifying murder. Truth is that the miscreants polluting our water bodies are in no rush to end their illegal activities. There must be a way of making it unattractive for these miscreants.
The Chronicle believes that heavier sentencing would reduce the menace. We are of the view too that the government could raise the involvement of Chinese nationals in galamsey with the Chinese authorities. Foreign nationals arrested should face stiffer sentencing in our courts.
We owe it a duty to end the menace of galamsey, and the authorities are on notice to up their game.