Leaders of the religious community in Ghana Tuesday asked for an explanation as to why illegal small-scale mining was still ongoing despite the Government’s undertaking to curb the menace.
They have thus urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to adopt crucial measures to bring an end to the threat, which had laid waste large farmlands and forest reserves, polluted water bodies, and destroyed livelihoods.
The religious leaders who were drawn from the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal Council, Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council, the Catholic Bishops Conference and the National Muslim Council raised the matter when they called on the President at the Jubilee House, Accra.
They were at the Presidency to express concern about the devastative effect of illegal mining and to rehash an earlier call for an immediate ban on small scale mining until a workable and satisfactory road map had been developed to ensure responsible mining in the country.
Chairman of the Christian Council, J.O.Y Mante who led the delegation told the President that they were concerned that people were still engaged in illegal; mining despite the efforts of the Government to fight the threat.
“We have visited galamsey sites and have seen some very serious things that cannot be described…We have a big worry because the galamsey menace is getting worse,” he said.
Mante, who is also the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, harped on the need for the government to double efforts to arrest and prosecute persons involved in illegal mining.
“We want to see people arrested and prosecuted publicly without fear or favour, whether the person is a politician or traditional leader.
“If we make all the wealth in gold but destroy all our environment and land, where will we build our houses, where will we plant our food and what water will we drink,” he quizzed.
The Christian Council Chairman assured the President that the religious leaders stood ready to assist the government to put a stop to the illegal mining menace in the country.
They would support the range of measures being implemented by the government to fight the threat.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that he was pleased that there was high public interest on the discussions on illegal mining, saying the heightened concern on the matter would inure to the fight against the menace.
He said he was happy the illegal mining issue had gripped the nation “and now we are talking about it.”
“The time when it went out of hand, we should have talked about it but today the public discourse and public consciousness have been fully aroused as to the dangers that this development poses to our growth, to our country’s progress, and that to me is a source of satisfaction.
“The advocacy, the determination to make it a priority in our country has succeeded. It is now a priority, everybody, media people, religious leaders, political forces, traditional rulers, everybody is anow awake to this phenomenon.
“And I think that in an open society like ours, ruled by public opinion, by laws freely made and not things being shoved down people’s throats as a way of governing… that’s always the first step towards any fundamental reforms, and the society itself is sufficiently seized and agitated by the problem from public opinion, you would then get the reforms and the measures and the decisions that make its possible,” he said.
The President applauded the decision of the religious bodies to work together with the government to address the crisis.
He said the gesture would go a long way to help in the fight against illegal mining in the country.