The Western Regional Minister, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, has called on heads of the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to own the fight against illegal mining (galamsey) and ensure that the government succeeds in sustaining the environment.
He said, “As District heads, do not be afraid to take bold decision…if it means arresting chiefs or community leaders who show resistance, arrest”.
The Minister was speaking at the Second Regional Coordinating Council meeting as part of satisfying section 19(1) of the Local Governance Act, 2016, (Act, 936), which enjoined the RCC to meet at least twice a year to assess its performance and challenges that must be confronted for the general wellbeing of the people in the Region.
He said the District Mining Taskforce must intensify the fight against illegal mining in forest reserves and river banks, in particular, to preserve the natural environment for the sake of current and future generations.
The Region, he announced, had developed an anti-galamsey strategy to ensure that no mining activities take place around any national installations and infrastructure, including roads, dams, hospitals, communication masts and high tensions, no river and forest mining.
The Region was also looking at reclamation degraded land by small scale miners as communal responsibility, development of wells for tailing washout, arrest and prosecution and destruction of any such equipment on site to deter investment in the destruction of water bodies and the environment in general.
Mr. Okyere Darko-Mensah, who is also the Member of Parliament for Takoradi, said the aim of the strategy was to achieve an ethical mining regime, where all players in the trade uphold the sanctity of the environment and respect of human rights.
He, therefore, charged the Taskforce not to compromise on their framework to ensure that best mining practices were adopted by both small and large-scale players.
“Don’t also forget about the mining education you have to give the communities and the public to appreciate the need to avoid degradation by their inactions, which have serious environmental and health implications aside the economic burden it poses.”
The Environmental Protection Agency was also mandated to enforce the laws on reclamation bonds to recover the scores of pits that had become life threatening over the period.
The Minister reported that the E-Tanks had been piloted and would be become fully automated to punish offenders with a fine.
On Agriculture, the Minister disclosed that a consultant had been engaged to help in rice production in the region.
He said the Region was able to win national awards in the farmers day celebration due to pragmatic implementation of government’s flagship programmes in Agriculture to develop the Local and the national economy.
Mr. Okyere Darko-Mensah reported that government’s development projects were ongoing, including the redevelopment works on the Takoradi Market, the Kwame Nkrumah roundabout and the dualization of Paa Grant roundabout, adding that other health and education projects were also on course.
“The RCC, in 2023, would advance monitoring and evaluation mandate and open up more collaborative partnerships to drive its agenda of enterprise Region and development”.
Mr. Ignatius Assaa Mensah, the DCE for Mpohor urged the assemblies to stop the “Ostrich” game, stop politics with the illegal mining menace and rather put all efforts together to protect the country’s water bodies and forest.
He declared, “we know where these machines are operating, we rent them out and so there should be information on where they are operating…all of us, the chiefs, families and political heads should see these acts of environmental destruction as a threat to our very living and begin doing the right things now”.
Meanwhile, the assemblies reported of urgent needs for amenities such as rural electrification, CHPS compound, early childhood facilities, Police Personnel, sanitation facilities, tarred and access roads and chieftaincy disputes for remedies.