The Operations Commander of Operation Vanguard, the anti-illegal mining taskforce, Lieutenant Colonel Dei Alorse, has revealed that since the launch of the taskforce by President Nana Akufo-Addo, to battle illegal mining, popularly called galamsey, 515 people (galamsayers) have been arrested from three regions of the country.
Out of that, only 39 have been convicted whilst others are still facing trial.
He said 1,859 pieces of equipment have also been destroyed in a total of 233 operations embarked on since it started its work in the Eastern, Western and Ashanti Regions.
Lt Col Dei Alorse emphasized that the president did not order them to go and kill galamseyers or destroy their machines, but to ensure that those in the practice stop the pollution of water bodies and destruction of the environment.
The operational commander revealed this at a town hall meeting at Kenyasi No 1 in the Brong-Ahafo Region to sensitize people living in mining communities on the need to stop the illegal activity.
The programme, which was organized by the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, was attended by community members, galamseyers, assembly members, heads of security agencies, chiefs and chief executives of some state-owned media organizations.
Videos showing the effect of galamsey activities on the environment were shown to the people.
In an address, Lt Col Dei Alorse said the mandate of Operation Vanguard is three-fold – fight and stop illegal mining, make sure small-scale miners observe the six-month moratorium put on them until their licences are scrutinized and cleared before they are allow to operate.
He said the taskforce has so far carried out 233 operations in the three regions mentioned above, disclosing that they were getting ready to come to the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The convener for Media Collation Against Galamsey, Kenneth Asigbey, who is also the outgoing boss of Graphic Communication Group Limited, explained that the media formed the coalition to hype the canker and its long-term effect on posterity.
He said that before 2010, galamsey activities were only limited to the use of implements such as pick axe, shovel and spade, but it had been realized that foreigners especially had resorted to the use of heavy equipment like bulldozers and excavators in prospecting for gold, thereby polluting water bodies.
He explained that the allowable chemical content in rivers should not exceed 2.5 percent, “but now it’s over more than 1,000 percent, due to the chemicals being used by the operators.
He blamed the canker on lack of leadership skills as politicians, chiefs, pastors; journalists, footballers and a host of others.
Mr Kenneth Asigbey praised President Akufo-Addo for putting his feet down to stop illegal mining, saying the president exercised what he called political courage rather than political will, describing him (president) as “one of the greatest presidents the country has ever had.”
The convenor asked the various DCEs to take centre stage in the fight against illegal mining activities in their areas of jurisdiction.
The Omanhene of the Kenyasi No 1 Traditional Area, Nana Osei Kofi Abiri, urged his subjects to abide by the moratorium placed on small-scale mining, to avoid confrontation with the team.
Source: Daily Guide
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