Nana Ansah Kwao IV, Chief of Akwamu Adumasa, has attributed the unending illegal mining- ‘galamsey’ – activity to the continuous growth in the population size of the country.
According to him, it was driving unemployment rate in the country high with the desire for survival fueling the situation.
He said this while contributing to discussions on the ‘galamsey’ menace on an Accra-based radio station monitored by the Ghana News Agency, on Saturday.
“The fundamental issue of all the menace confronting to this issue is the speed with which the population is growing, but some how as a country, it is a taboo subject for us. If you look at our economy and the number of new babies we put in a year, there is absolutely no way we can give them good roads, sanitation, education before December; before we put in another 900,000 new babies for, which a great percentage is coming from the lower end of the spectrum where the financial muscle is not too strong,” he noted.
Nana Kwao IV, therefore, called for drastic measures to be put in place and family planning encouraged to check the rapid growth of the population.
“What we the traditional rulers are refusing to understand is that the principles have not changed, but the times have changed and so the reasons for, which our forefathers did certain things, the thing is still valid but maybe the reason you can change it, the purpose you cannot change it. And so that’s why we have arrived here, greed and survival,” he stated.
Dr Henry Kokofu, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), noted that inadequate staff was hampering the Agency’s efforts to regularly monitor activities of mining companies to ensure that they adhered to the law.
He, however, revealed that the Agency was in the process of procuring some 45 vehicles to help in monitoring activities of mining companies, especially ‘galamsey’ in the country.
He said that would enable the Agency to identify and arrest mining companies and persons who flouted the mining laws of the country by engaging in illegal activities.
“The first time in the history of EPA, we are procuring 45 vehicles, of which 25 are robust mining Land Cruisers size that the large scale miners use and it’s being equipped with all the necessary accouterments, including GPS, siren and all that we need to work with… So, we will be able to march up boot for boot with illegal operators,” he said.
The EPA Boss noted that the Agency had taken numerous actions, including sanctioning and revoking the mining licences of companies and individuals who perpetuated illegalities, in an effort to curb the galamsey menace.
He said the EPA was currently working with the Minerals Commission to activate the reclamation bond to ensure that all mined lands were returned to their original states.
Regulation 23 of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999 (L.I 1652) mandates the EPA to ensure that prospective small-scale miners post reclamation bonds in the form of cash into an escrow account based on approved reclamation plans before they are issued permits to mine.
Mr Francis Kwasi Bonzoh, the District Chief Executive for Elembelle District, rejected calls by a section of the public for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives to be sacked for failing to deal with the ‘galamasey’ menace.
He described that as “quiet simplicity,” explaining that, actors of ‘galamsey’ business were powerful and highly connected, making the fight against the canker very difficult.
Dr Tony Aubynn, President, Africa Institute of Extractive Industries, urged the Minerals Commission to monitor concessions given out to mining firms to ensure the right thing was done.