Ridding this society off the galamsey menace

The new Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation began his official assignment at the weekend, by raising an issue that is fundamental to the existence of many people in this part of the world.
According to Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the government is drawing up a comprehensive plan to clamp-down on the menace of ‘galamsey,’ (illegal mining) that is destroying our water bodies and degrading the environment.
The Minister was answering questions put to him by a journalist from state-run Ghanaian Times at a seminar in Accra.
For starters, the government would place a ban on mining on water bodies. According to the renowned Surgeon now donning the political garb of the New Patriotic Party, the dangerous activities of galamsey operators is polluting our rivers, water bodies and degrading the environment.
The Chronicle is happy with the new thinking in the corridors of power, and prays that the operation is effected sooner than later. All over the country, major rivers are struggling for existence, as a result of massive pollution and use of very dangerous chemicals. It is not the best of sights to behold when one approaches some of our river basins.
The Birim River, once the source of potable water for the three Akyem Traditional Areas – Abuakwa, Kotoku and Bosome – for which the people pride themselves, is now a collection of mud on the move.
The muddy waters of the Birim River empties into the Pra River, which also receives polluted waters from the Offin and other equally polluted rivers and streams. Today, the River Pra is a far cry from its usually calm waters. It is a collection of mud on wheels.
The pollution of our water bodies does not speak well of this country as a society harbouring people whose lives ought to be protected. The mad rush for gold has turned galamsey operators into beasts, who are prepared to kill to realise their dream of fetching gold and diamonds.
As you read this piece, the Black Volta Basin in the Brong Ahafo Region has been turned into an international conglomerate of illegal miners from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and other nearby countries.
First reports indicate that these illegal operators are putting the Bui Dam under threat. Apart from the degrading of the environment and turning the waters of the Black Volta into mud, these illegal operators empty all manner of dangerous chemicals into the river.
The Chronicle learns with a tinge of sadness that mercury and cyanide are used indiscriminately. These chemicals find their way into our water bodies, and expose our people to danger.
The Chronicle will support any means of ridding this country of these illegal operators.
We are mindful of the need for these operators to be able to feed themselves and their families. But we are unable to countenance the destruction of our means of livelihood, just because a group of people want to live well.
It would be a hard nut to crack, if this society should rid itself of the galamsey menace. We cannot pretend to be unaware of the political and traditional influence that underpin the operations of galamsey in Ghana, and which made it difficult for past governments to use the law to curb the menace.
Lack of political will also militates against the determination to rid this society of the menace. If Prof. Frimpong-Boateng and his other officials of state should succeed in eliminating galamsey from this society, they would have to be strong and firm.
The Chronicle believes pressure from within would be too much to resist, but they would have to persevere.
This country and its environments have to be saved. We cannot do so by mere exhortation. Force would have to go hand in hand with exhortations.
We are firm in our conviction that the stick and carrot approach could combine to rid our landscape of the menace of galamsey.
Galamsey is a menace that has to be uprooted. Like the Nigerians say, it is a task that must be done!

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