Chiefs and local officials can be equally blamed for ‘galamsey’, says Jinapor

According to the lands minister, local authorities cannot feign ignorance while the act persists in their jurisdictions

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor has said chiefs and officials at the local level must all be partly blamed for the growing menace of illegal mining in Ghana.

According to him, local authorities cannot feign ignorance while the act persists in their jurisdictions.

“I come from a palace and I can say without a shred of equivocation that in most cases, no one, and I repeat, no one can bring a chain saw to harvest in the forest or an excavator to mine in the bush or chanfang to work on a river body in a community without the knowledge, acquiescence or passive approval somehow of the chief, elders, the assemblymen, opinion leaders and or local authorities in the community,” the minister said.

“We have to begin to be blunt about this situation on our hands. It is the honest truth and, sadly for me, I am having to say it and do so publicly.”

Speaking at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Jinapor said the government is determined to address the problem.

The government’s effort

“Government may declare river bodies as red zones for mining, for the preservation of our water bodies, yet until every person feels a responsibility to protect these river bodies, the government effort may come to nothing,” he said.

He added: “Government has procured speed boats, we are patrolling the water bodies of our country, we are arresting perpetrators, we are decommissioning and demobilising excavators and other mining equipment, yet there are still some nation wreckers who only seek their personal interest.”

Jinapor said the fight against ‘galamsey’ must be devoid of politics.

“We cannot come to grips with these issues if they continue to be politicised and exploited by political parties for their personal gains,” he said.

Although Ghana requires permits to mine on a small scale, it is estimated that about 70% of small-scale miners are unregistered and operate illegally. They are known locally as galamsey, meaning to “gather and sell”.

While illegal mining supports livelihoods, it has caused severe damage to the environment. It is blamed for destruction of farmlands and pollution of water bodies. It also denies the state revenue: an estimated US$2.3 billion in 2016, reports The Conversation.

 Irene Pomaa Kumi

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