In anticipation to clamp down on illegal mining activities in the country by the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government, the illegal miners have also started looking for other alternatives to expand their illicit activities. Places where hitherto did not have such activities have also started experiencing an influx of foreigners mostly from West African Countries and China to expand the illegal trade. One of such places is the Kwahu enclave in the Eastern Region which has now been invaded by illegal miners mostly from these West African countries, Northern Ghana and China.
This forced the Eastern Regional Security Council (REGSEC), Operation Vanguard and the Kwahu West Municipal Security Council (MUSEC) to visit the places in the Kwahu area where such activities are ongoing. The visit on Tuesday 26th November was to help them have firsthand knowledge about the situation.
The visit revealed that several cocoa, food crops and citrus farms are being cut down by the illegal miners in exploration for gold. It was found that the illegal miners use metal detectors to detect existence of gold in the farm lands and negotiate with the owners of the farms to mine without recourse to existing mining laws and proven sustainable mining methods.
The eveningmail.com found that the foreigners who mostly have the purchasing power go into agreement with the farmers and the locals in the area where proceeds are shared into three parts, one each for the farmer, the foreigner who comes with the money for exploration and the locals and Northerners who do the digging for the gold.
The situation according to the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the area, Yaw Owusu Addo, is worrying. According to Mr. Addo, what is even more worrying is the complicity of the local folks in the whole deal which he says will makes the fight even more difficult. “This thing has been going on for sometime now and not a single person from any of these places has come to my office or the police station to report. The chiefs, Assembly Members, Unit Committee Members, even polling station party executives of my own party are all here, yet no one is talking,” a worried Mr. Addo told the eveningmailgh.com.
Effect on Cocoa
The Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfuor, on his part, expressed worry about the devastating effect of the mining activities on cocoa. He expressed worry that the situation can affect the government’s plan of attaining 1.5 million metric tonnes of cocoa. “Cocoa has been the backbone of this country, it is disheartening that these people are doing this to cocoa. This very road that we plied on to this site which is currently undergoing renovation is a cocoa road, have you ever heard of gold road in this country before?” He asked.
“I am not happy, my MCE is not and the President is also not happy, our people are only thinking about how much they can make now without thinking about the future generation, this is sad,” a livid Kwakye Darfuor said.
Pressure on Social services
Mr. Darfour added that aside from the degradation of the land and issues of social vices that have started showing their head in the area, the influx of the galamsey operators put pressure on social services in the area.
He stated that having visited the area to see the extent of the devastation, he shall present a report to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the Ministry of Agriculture, the Inter Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) among other relevant stakeholders and make a lasting decision on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Commander of the Operation Vanguard team in the Eastern Region, Maj. JM Baluo, stated that though the area was not originally part of the places they were assigned to, the situation demand that they take a look at the place for now. He, however, stated that the work of the team has been made difficult in all their operating areas due to the complicity of the locals.