Ghana government asked to demonstrate more commitment towards galamsey fight

Professor Dr Ossei Sampene, Head of Forensic and Histopathology Department of Pathology, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, has urged government to enhance its commitment in the fight against galamsey. 

He said Government should commit more resources and deepen enforcement of responsible mining of minerals, especially gold. 

The Professor gave the advice on Saturday during a television discussion in Accra. 

The discussion was held on the back of a report on April 10, 2024, which alleged that over 150 hectares (375 acres) of rehabilitated cocoa farms at Brahabebome, Apuoyem, Brosanko, Nkontomire, and Ouagadougou in the Atwima Nwabiagya South Municipality, were under siege. 

The report said a foreign mining company, MIGOP Mining Limited, had allegedly taken over the farms for its mining activities. 

The Company, which claimed to have acquired a license from the Minerals Commission for prospecting was reported to be destroying vast portions of the rehabilitated farms, despite resistance from the farmers. 

Following distress calls from the farmers for the intervention of COCOBOD, a team of officials from COCOBOD led by Professor Michael Kwarteng, the Head of Anti-illegal Mining Unit, visited the area to ascertain the level of destruction of the farms. 

Professor Dr Sampene said the use of heavy metals such as mercury, uranium and lead, and harmful chemicals such as cyanide, sulfuric acid, amongst others rendered the environment toxic and negatively impacting human health. 

He said such chemicals could lead to health complications such as kidney failure, lung problems and reduce life expectancy. 

The Professor said it could also increase maternal and child mortality rates as pregnant women who lived in such hazardous environments were likely to face complications during labour. 

“I found that many children who died at birth had various forms of deformities. Some had their legs stuck together, others had more than five fingers on one hand, some had their hearts positioned on the right instead of the left, some had one eye, others were born as hermaphrodites, and many other deformities not compatible with life,” he explained. 

He, therefore, urged the citizenry to protect the environment against such illegal mining activities and advised miners to carry out their work responsibly. 

Mr Gabriel Korang Ababio, Bono Regional Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party, said despite Government’s effort to address illegal mining activities, some recalcitrant miners still managed to outwit the system. 

He, therefore, urged security agencies to up their efforts to fish out such miscreants and prosecute them. 

Mr Seth Ofori Twumasi, Financial and Economic Analyst, said Government had failed in the fight against illegal mining because many of those miners had protection from people in authority. 

He said Government’s poor management of cocoa had also encouraged many farmers to consider ‘galamsey’ as an alternative means of livelihood. 

Illegal mining is locally referred to as “Galamsey”, derived from the phrase “gather them and sell”.  

The impact of ‘Galamsey’ on Ghana’s environment has been severe.  

The miners often use dangerous chemicals such as mercury to extract gold from the soil, which pollutes the waterways and soils, leading to the death of aquatic life and rendering the soil infertile. 

Mr Benjamin Nsiah, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Management and Sustainable Energy, said the failure of authorities to punish offenders had led to the increased participation in the illegal act. 

He said ‘galamsey’ was a national security matter, which needed to be given utmost attention. 

Mr Nsiah said until Ghana reformed its national security architecture, it would not succeed in the fight against ‘galamsey’. 

Source: GNA 

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