Many coastal communities in the Central Region risk being submerged due to the nefarious activities of sand winners usually carried out at night with impunity.
Mr William Goku, the Regional Environmental Officer said, although the menace had been taking place for many years, the trend in recent times was scary and posed a threat to thousands of coastal inhabitants and monumental structures.
Surprised at the rate of degradation along the 168-kilometer Atlantic coastline, he told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Friday that the wanton practice was pronounced in Winneba, Apam, Anomabo, Saltpond, Moree and Biriwa.
Others are Elmina and its surrounding communities, Anomabo and some suburbs of Cape Coast such as Bakaano, Brofoyedur, OLA and the University of Cape Coast beachfront.
Mr Goku said: “I won’t be surprised to find out one day that the wide picturesque sandy beaches that we used to walk and play on, are no longer there.
“They would have been replaced by ghastly looking rocky projections that are a danger to swimmers and holidaymakers.”
Heightening their modus operandi, he said the sand winners, who obviously were aware that their actions were illegal, operated under the cover of darkness.
They used unapproved routes through coconut trees at the beaches and load their trucks with sand from night till the wee hours of the morning and then tipped off to communities nearby and later transported to various destinations.
That they claimed was their means of economic survival.
Forecasting the dire effects on tourism, Mr Goku said the region indisputably had the highest number of tourist sites in the country including castles and forts, leisure parks, beaches, lagoons, international stingless sites, and the Kromantse deep pit.
Others are the forgotten historical stone of Asebu, the Essiam earthenware bowl site, the Otaakra sacred tree between Ekumfi Ekotsi and Ekumfi Akwansa Kokoda but they would be lost if the environmental hazards were not stopped.
However, Mr Goku regrettably noted that some unscrupulous people were bent on scooping the beautiful coastline, particularly from Cape Coast to Elmina.
These beaches, which are the preferred destination of tourists, were being degraded and destroyed by sand winners and others who openly defecate along the shores.
These prohibitive activities have been going on for years and posed a great threat to the multi-million Ghana Cedis sea defence project initiated by the government to protect the coastline on the main Accra-Takoradi Highway.
He said the Cape Coast Metropolitan Assembly had made several efforts to stop the nefarious activity and had also arrested some sand winners who were being prosecuted, among other stringent measures.
It has also intensified public education on radio to sensitise the public on the effects of sand winning and open defecation.
Mr Emmanuel Ansah, a 35-year-old fisherman at Brofoyedur, a suburb of Cape Coast told the GNA, sand winning was inimical to the survival of the people along the coast who are predominately fishermen.
He said the practice has also exposed the coastal reef and destroyed several nets of the fishermen but all efforts to stop it had proved difficult.