Mining Communities across Western, Ashanti and Eastern Regions of the country are currently experiencing distress conditions following the government clamp down on illegal mining dubbed “stop galamsey” campaign.
Artisanal mining is a pre-colonial work, which many communities in these regions have lived on for more than 200 years. However, with the introduction of heavy duty machines and excavators, particularly influenced by the influx of foreigners, particularly Chinese, raised huge public outcry hence, government decision to solve the menace.
Barely a week ago, Operation Vanguard stormed the Prestea Nakaba community arresting 15-illegal miners. The government earlier on issued a six month moratorium, and all these has placed considerable distress on affected communities, particularly Prestea, Bogoso, Aboso, Huni Valley and its surrounding communities.
The government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has communicated that; a five-year Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) is the solution for this menace. The government has hinted this will create some 500,000 jobs, according to the Finance Ministry.
The situation currently in Prestea is not a happy one, and we appeal to government to fast-track the programme before the end of 2017 to relief the people of untold hardship.
Currently, a training programme for a section of the miners is under-way at University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa. We appeal that the number of people being trained should be increased to give opportunity to any miner who expresses the desire to be trained.
Prestea Communicators for Development (PCD) offer the following suggestions further to the government:
1. The Operation Vanguard, should add human face in their dealings with the miners, since the government policy is to regularise the mining operations, and not to stop mining. The burning of excavators and machines should stop.
2. Illegal miners who are still adamant should respect the authority of the government. They should take opportunity of the training programmes and for their own safety as well as the protection of the environment.
3. Propaganda by the opposition NDC party must stop, since in 2013, President John Mahama embarked on similar measures to uproot illegal mining but failed due to poor commitment.
4. Licensing agencies and supervisory bodies such as the Mineral Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be completely overhauled since they have failed to “deliver their mandate”.
5. Again, it has been noted that forest reserve at Prestea-Nsuta is being mined rampantly by some group of miners. The Forestry Commission should come and explain why “some small scale miners are still working” even when a moratorium has been set.
Prestea Communicators for Development wish add that, government should not only concentrate on illegal miners, since licensed large scale miners, such as Golden Star Bogoso Prestea Ltd (GSBPL) are also doing surface mining and blasting very close to Prestea community and has huge health implications for the people as well as the environment.
COMRADE FRANCIS ESHUN
JAMES SAMUEL ACKERSON
PHILIP GYAN (ATISCO)
JONAS KYEREMANTENG (HOLY)