Traditional leaders warn ‘galamsey’ operators

Small scale miners

The chiefs and elders of five communities in the Tano North District of Brong-Ahafo, have warned they would not tolerate any illegal mining activity, commonly known as “galamsey,” in their traditional areas.

The five chiefs from Yamfo, Susuanso, Terchire, Adrobaa, Tanoso and Afrisipakrom, led by Nana Ansah Adu Baah II, paramount chief of Yamfo Traditional area, gave the warning at a press conference at Yamfo, on Friday.

The other chiefs were Nana Antwi Tabiri II, Susuanso, Nana Boonim Nkrawiri IV, Afrisipakrom, Nana Asare Baffour II, Tanoso and Nana Kwaku Beniana, Terchire and were supported by six sub-chiefs from the various communities.

The chiefs complained about the “heavy” galamsey operations at ‘Adongo’, among other places, on the Tano River, which is a major source of drinking water for the communities, including the intake for Sunyani Municipality.

They also bemoaned the adverse effects that ‘galamsey” had on the environmental, accompanied with its and social hazards.

They expressed the fear that if nothing was done immediately to curb the activities, the river might dry up.

Communities depending on the river are in danger of chemical pollution, since mercury used by the illegal miners is a dangerous and causes swelling, itching and other ailments, especially among children and people who get in contact with it or eat fishes from the river, the chiefs stated.

The chiefs said, in view of the dangers associated with “galamsey”, they had taken the precautionary measure of issuing the warning.

Other social consequences of galamsey, they added were that it contributed greatly to social problems such as substance and alcohol abuse, social vices, prostitution and robbery, which does not augur well for the well-being of the people.

They said illegal mining also impacts badly on children of school-going age since they are most times influenced by the monetary aspect and consequently abandons school.

The chiefs also cautioned that anyone “who engages in galamsey or gives his or her land for galamsey operations or rents his or her house for galamsey operators to live in” would be reported to the security agencies.

“We have resolved to report such land and house owners to the security agencies for prosecution”, the chiefs stated.

“We do not want such a canker to bedevil our communities and so, we are calling on the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, the Regional Minister, the District Assembly and security agencies to deal drastically with ‘galamsey’ operators in our communities”, they added.

The chiefs said they were ready to support actions taken by any stakeholder to save the water bodies, as well as the health of the people and the education of the youth.

They however said they would support any legal process of acquiring land for mineral exploration, that lent’s itself to sound environmental practices, which would benefit the community through infrastructural improvement.

“We recognize the value of responsible mining at the community and national levels, in the areas of employment, community development, taxes, dividend, royalties and development of businesses, among others, they stressed.

The chiefs expressed their preparedness to set up a taskforce to support government to chase out criminals from their lands and also close any ‘galamsey’ pit found in any part of their areas.

Present was Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Samuel Latemu, Duayaw-Nkwanta Divisional Police Commander.

Source: GNA

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