The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Mines, Mr George Mireku Duker has charged Ghanaians to work together to fight illegal mining and ensure that Ghana’s polluted waterbodies would regain their purity by March 2023.
He expressed optimism that the government’s initiatives are already yielding results and that if the trend continues by the first quarter of 2023, there would be a significant improvement in the quality of the water bodies.
The Deputy Minister, who spoke at a Community Sensitization on Illegal Mining in Tarkwa on Thursday, said the introduction of digital innovations such as registering and tracking all earth-moving equipment in the country, as well as the Community Mining Scheme, would ensure that the government succeed in the fight against illegal mining.
He added that the training of river wardens to supplement the Operation Halt II taskforce was another commendable initiative aimed at liberating waterbodies from galamsey operations.
He said, however, that government innovations and efforts would not be realized unless traditional authorities and residents of mining communities join the fight against illegal mining.
As a result, he asked the chiefs and residents of Tarkwa and its environs to lend a hand in helping the government clean up the Bonsa River of pollution from galamsey operations.
Mr Mireku Duker cautioned the mining communities that the government, which has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting legal small-scale mining businesses, would be forced to heed the call of those calling for a ban on small-scale mining if the indigenes of the communities did not collaborate.
“There are suggestions for the government to close down small-scale mining activities but we are aware of the number of job opportunities created in the small-scale mining sector. The Bonsa River has been destroyed. 100 years ago, they mined gold here in Tarkwa but the river was clear so how have we allowed greed to make us destroy our river”, he said.
“Because myself and my Minister believe in small-scale mining, we have the blessings of the President to promote mining but in a very sustainable and responsible way. If you don’t want the government to ban small-scale mining, all of you gathered here must help clean the Bonsa River. The chiefs, small-scale miners and everyone here has a role to play to protect the Bonsa River. The small-scale miners have assured the MCE during a meeting that by the end of December, the Bonsa would have cleared.
“The leadership of the small-scale miners in Accra have also assured us of their support to ensure that the Birim River in the Eastern region is cleared. It is the responsibility of everyone to fight illegal mining. The government alone cannot fight illegal mining, we need your collaboration. The government has recruited river wardens whose job is to provide constant patrol of the Pra, Tano, Bonsa, and Ankobrah, among others. They’ve been given speedboats to do their job. The river guards have uniforms stuffed with body cameras and their movements will be monitored,” he said.
The MCE for Tarkwa-Nsuaem, Benjamin Kesse stated that the people of Tarkwa-Nsuaem would not sit back and watch others destroy their livelihoods. He assured the security agencies that they would provide intelligence on galamsey operators.