It is a matter of the watchman himself goading on the thief… The front-page exposé in The Chronicle yesterday, announcing the arrest and detention of three military members of the Operation Vanguard team, the military-cum police task force put together on the orders of the President to fight the galamsey menace in the country, sums up the difficulty in getting the assignment executed.
The three soldiers were alleged to have extorted monies from illegal miners in the Wassa Akropong area of the Western Region, in order to turn a blind eye to the pollution of our water bodies and destruction of our rich farmlands.
If the watchman is the one providing the lead to these robbers of our heritage, then from where comes the salvation of this nation? There should be no relaxation in pursuing these miscreants, for we all agree that galamsey is destroying our lands and water bodies at an alarming rate.
Empirical evidence is emerging that the destruction is going beyond the pollution of our water bodies and degradation of our farmlands. Quite recently, Ghana Cocoa Board put up a very distressing news item that tells how badly galamsey is having an impact on the economy. Apparently, a ship load of cocoa, said to weigh about 100,000 tonnes and hundreds of millions of dollars in value, has been returned from Japan.
The Japanese authorities complained that the consignment had been contaminated with an unacceptably high quantum of lead, and had, therefore, been rejected. One does not need rocket science to trace the link between the consignment and how it got to be contaminated.
The consignment might have originated from an area where galamsey is widely prominent. Experts believe mercury and other chemicals used by illegal miners to extract gold might have contaminated the cocoa before it was harvested and prepared for export.
Galamsey is bad and must be eliminated. Unfortunately, like most things Ghanaian, a number of those assigned to arrest the culprits appear to be more interested in taking advantage of their assignment to line their own pockets, than dealing decisively with the culprits.
The case of the three soldiers arrested for extorting money from those polluting our water bodies and degrading our ancestral lands, attests to the difficulties involved in solving the problem.
The Chronicle applauds the Military High Command for the decisive action taken against the three soldiers cited in the alleged extortion case. We urge more vigilance on members of the Operation Vanguard Task Force.
Since the exercise began nearly one year ago, tongues have wagged about some unscrupulous members of the force extorting monies from these galamsey miscreants and alerting them on the movements of members of the task-force. What this means is that the galamsey operators vanish when members of the task force arrive at their make-shift pits. They return as soon as the soldiers and police personnel are gone.
The exercise to rid the country of these miscreants is key to the survival of this society. That is why we should all help in the exercise to end galamsey in this land of our birth. There is no other way!