EDITORIAL: Can Ghana really win the galamsey fight?

On Monday May 9, 2022 this paper carried a story about four Chinese illegal immigrants who have been arrested for trespassing on a 40-acre land to engage in illegal mining. They were made to pay a sum of GH¢16 million for the damage they caused on the land.

It should come as good news that they have been nabbed and are being made to face the law, but The Chronicle is not the least happy. We are rather disgusted at how our own people, who have been tasked to protect the country’s resources, are rather aiding foreigners to come and commit all sorts of crimes and injustices.

Our revulsion stems from the fact that in our May 9 story, it was disclosed that these illegal miners are also illegal immigrants. It is trite knowledge that the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) is the body responsible for issuing resident permits to foreigners who want to stay in the country. It beats our imagination as to how the GIS will sit idle and allow foreigners to illegally come into the country and muster the effrontery to engage in illegal mining.

Again, it is also a known fact that government and our traditional rulers are the custodians of our land and no one can get access to them without the permit of any of these bodies. In the case of the four Chinese illegal immigrants, we are told that they engaged in illegal mining on the land without permission from the rightful owners. But how is it possible for foreigners to move excavators into an area, build temporary offices structures and mine on the land without local collaborators?

We have all seen the investments governments have made and continue to make to curb illegal mining. From Operation Vanguard, which consisted of 200 military and 200 police personnel charged with the mandate of seizing and burning of equipment belonging to illegal mining operators and the forced closure of mines without official documents, and next to Operation Halt which consisted of only the military, who were given the responsibility of removing all persons and logistics involved in mining from water bodies, one cannot deny the fact that government has not done its part in the fight against galamsey.

There was also the establishment of Galamstop, a taskforce charged to patrol some river bodies to ensure that people do not mine in water bodies. The Chronicle does not think that all these personnel worked for free as government had to pay motivational allowances to the gallant taskforce men and women, providing food, water, accommodation and working tools all from our taxes.

The four Chinese illegal immigrants entered into the country without illegally and have destroyed our land and water bodies. If the GIS had performed its duty well, these Chinese illegal immigrants would not have entered the country in the first place and even if they did not get the support of local collaborators, they would not have been able to locate these lands, talk less mine on them.

From the above it is clear that government is trying its best to bring the illegal mining menace to its barest minimum. The onus now lies on us the citizens to ensure that all these investments do not go to waste.  If we do not put our love for money aside and act as citizens and not spectators, the government can establish a countless number of taskforces but it will just be like pouring water in a basket. The time to act is now!


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