On Wednesday this week, The Chronicle carried a story about members of the anti-galamsey task force set up by the Adansi Traditional Council (ATC) have allegedly been assaulted by a group of illegal miners at Amponyaase, in the Akrofrom district of the Ashanti region.
This happened when the task force was reported to have attempted to halt the operations of the illegal miners. The group of illegal miners were busily digging for gold at a village called Amponyaase.
Information available to The Chronicle indicates that the four-member task force was attacked by over forty illegal miners with machetes, stones and clubs among others.
A land rover vehicle with registration number GT 4777-09, which was being used by the task force was vandalised, with one of the taskforce members reportedly struggling to gain his sight in the hospital.
The police later rushed to the scene to rescue the task force members and also arrested some of the illegal miners who were granted police enquiry bail.
Barely twenty four hours after we reported the above story, another group of illegal miners, this time from Obuasi, in the same traditional area, have also gone on rampage over the arrest of some of their colleagues.
They reportedly invaded the Obuasi Municipal Assembly and the police headquarters to demand that their colleagues who have been arrested for illegally entering the concession of AngloGold Ashanti to mine be freed.
The sudden attack by the illegal miners, numbering over five hundred, forced the deployment of the armed military personnel to the mining town. The illegal miners were reported to have blocked roads, burnt lorry tyres and prevented the free-flow of traffic and pedestrians.
A military reinforcement team had to be sent to the area to contain the situation.
The Chronicle is astonished by the increasing number of the youth turning away from their roles in protecting the forests and water bodies and rather engaging in illegal mining. This may be mainly due to lack of economic opportunities but it cannot be an excuse for the wanton degradation of the environment.
The surge in galamsey activities across the country has got to the point where people are selling out their farmlands for illegal mining.
It has been six years of relentless fight against galamsey, when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo put his presidency on the line with an avowed resolve to halt the menace and bring sanity to the small-scale mining sector.
The jury is still out there as to whether the president’s ultimatum to eradicate the problem of galamsey has been successful.
What has also happened to the government’s programme to provide illegal miners with alternative livelihoods in the mining communities?
The Community Mining Scheme was one of the many interventions introduced to fight illegal mining, with the introduction of the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme for community members who were dependent on illegal mining.
It was meant to pave the way for the commencement of regulated, responsible and sustainable community mining aimed at helping to get rid of illegal mining and to provide livelihoods for members in the mining communities.
One of the most significant policy challenges in Ghana today revolves around the question of how to address illegal small-scale mining, popularly known as galamsey.
Government must tackle the menace by ensuring that all small-scale mining activities fall under the Small-Scale Gold Mining Law and all those who fall foul of the law must not be spared