Aquatic life faces extinction in Upper Denkyira East due to ‘galamsey’


Mr Ebenezer Forson Appiah, the Upper Denkyira East Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), said activities of illegal miners (galamsey) continue to contaminate water bodies, negatively impacting on aquatic life.

“Our rivers such as Offin, Mansi and Subin are rigorously being destroyed and faced extinction due to illegal mining activities in and on their banks,” he said.

“Rivers and other water bodies are clogged by sand dunes as vegetation, wildlife habitat and aquatic organisms flee for cover.”

“Galamsey has killed the variety of fish we hitherto relished and threatened the livelihood of many fishers and farmers. Rivers have turned yellowish and muddy due to the continuous use of chemical pollutants like mercury, lead, and cyanide in mining.”

Mr Appiah, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the apparent impunity of the illegal miners remained a threat to food and water security.

The situation had resulted in the destruction of major food staples and cash crops like rice, cocoa, rubber, and coffee, he said.

Mr Appiah said, often, the illegal miners destroyed farms without recourse to the landowners, particularly when all attempts to persuade the owners to sell failed, leaving them with no option but to accept the compensations.

He said there were also instances where some farmers preferred to sell their lands to the illegal miners regardless of the public education against the practice.

Mr Appiah reiterated the need for collective efforts to curb the menace instead of leaving it for the government alone to deal with.

He said since 2017 government had fought the activity at all levels, banning all forms of small-scale mining in the country for almost two years.

Also, an Inter-ministerial Committee on illegal mining (IMCIM) was set up, comprising relevant ministries such as the Lands and Natural Resources, Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Local Government and Rural Development, Defence, and the Interior, to help bring sanity to the small-scale mining sector.

He also mentioned a joint security taskforce, dubbed: “Operation Vanguard,” deployed to mining communities to cramp down on recalcitrant illegal miners.

Through the work of the taskforce, hundreds of excavators, boats for dredging and washing the ore, known as chanfan machines, and other equipment were seized.

However, Mr Appiah said, after lifting of the ban, the situation had escalated in many parts of the country.
He therefore, called for a dispassionate national dialogue on how to proceed with the galamsey fight.
“It will take the people of this generation to solve the galamsey problem that we see today. Angels will not come down from heaven to solve it for us,” he said

“Our chiefs, who are the custodians of the land, must take keen interest. The media must sustain advocacy and put pressure on stakeholders to go all out to stop the canker.”

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