The Media Coalition Against illegal mining (Galamsey) will sensitise illegal mining -affected communities in the Brong-Ahafo Region in October this year on how they can help support the fight against the menace.
The Coalition, which is made up of media partners such as the Graphic Communication Group Limited, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), the New Times Corporation, the Ghana Journalists Association, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and Sunyani-based Sky Fm came together in April this year to wage war against galamsey which was destroying the country's arable lands and river bodies.
In an interview with Peacefmonline.com in Sunyani, the convener for the group, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, said the 1992 Constitution mandated the media to hold political leaders accountable, and because the media is the Fourth Estate of the Realm, it must hold itself into account, first by joining the fight against the menace.
The galamsey combating was given a further impetus, last month, when government launched 'Operation Vanguard' made up of some 400 personnel from the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and the Ghana Police service to stop the menace, but Mr. Ashigbey believes the initiative should be supported by the citizens, especially those whose communities and rivers have been destroyed as a result of the illegal mining.
In the Brong Ahafo Region, the illegal mining hitherto was rife in the Ntotroso, Wamahinso, Kenyasi, Dadiesoaba in the Asutifi areas, the Dormaa Areas, some communities in the Jaman South district, Adongo and some communities along the Tano river.
The situation affected the quality of the river that on 29th April, residents of Sunyani joined Sky FM's Journalist Kofi Oppong Asamoah, who walked to campaign against the canker.
Mr Ashigbey said the sensitisation programme would be spearheaded by the coalition's partner, Sky FM to educate the people on how to deal with the canker.
Punishment Too Mild
Mr Ashigbey, however, bemoaned the kind of punishment meted out to galamsey operators and urged the government to take steps to intensify the punishment to deter others from engaging in the unscrupulous act, stressing that the fight against the canker should be taken a notch higher than what the country is experiencing now.
The former Managing Director of Graphic communications noted that sentencing of people involved in illegal mining was becoming a problem against the galamsey fight and urged government to put up stringent measures to fast track their prosecution.
"someone is caught in the act, sent to court and fined GHc 2400. That is some chicken money for them. they don't feel the pinch so they'll pay and go back.This is what we want government to consider so people don't see a reason to destroy our lands," he passionately added.
Apart from urging the Chief Justice to help to fasten prosecution processes of defaulters, Mr Ashigbey further kicked against the deportation of foreign illegal miners without imprisonment and said it showed that the country's laws were somehow weak.
"There should be a combination of the fine and the custodian sentences. we should make sure these people serve their sentences here before we deport them, so that it will serve as deterrent for the rest of the people who want to engage in galamsey."
He also reiterated the coalition's commitment to meeting the Chief Justice and other government officials to help tighten the punishment for illegal miners in accordance with the Mining Act.
Source: Peacefmonline.com/Henryson Okrah
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