A former chairman of Ghana’s national security committee for Lands and Natural Resources, Brigadier General Daniel K. Mishio, says the fight against illegal small scale mining can only be won with strong leadership and a well thought out plan.
“Leadership of the team mandated to deal with the menace should be patriotic, courageous, and principled people who are handpicked and have the full backing of the executive,” he stated.
He said the fight against the canker should be planned, addin “it’s very necessary, to ensure deliberate and thorough planning based on intelligence. We should not take adhoc measures.
There should also be committed leadership and selection of the personnel who are going to conduct the operations must have effective supervision” he added.
Brigadier Mishio has meanwhile proposed a strategy to address the menace: “In the short term, (we should) halt all illegal mining; medium term ensure that all measures are put in place and in the long term, we should have policies to ensure that the issue doesn’t come up again”.
Brigadier General Mishio headed the special joint task force which was instituted in 2013 to flush out illegal miners (galamsey) in the country.
He warned against interference from influential personalities, admitting it was one of the challenges they encountered during his time.
“We had problems, with all kinds of people; politicians, businessmen, chiefs and all kinds of people. I mean there were situations in which ministers, politicians and top hierarchy personnel wanted equipments seized released but we refused”
He, however, admitted that their greatest challenge had to do with the law.
“The Act 703 at the time did not give us a certain clout because if somebody was being tried at the circuit court, they could not be punished beyond a certain limit therefore the punishments were not detrimental and their equipments could not be confiscated” he observed.
He commended the chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood for her relentless efforts at ensuring legislature to fight the canker which has now polluted the country’s water bodies, destroyed forest covers and farmlands.
“I must commend the Chief Justice because we had situations where presentations had to be to her, the Council of State and other bodies connected with the issue.
The Chief Justice listened and subsequently by December 24, 2015 a new ACT, ACT 900 came into being. I don’t think many people know about it. But the implementation of that law alone will go a long way to curb illegal mining in the country”.
Meanwhile, in the latest of the government’s fight against the menace, Lands and Natural resources minister, Peter Amewu, has given a thirty-day ultimatum for all mining equipments and excavators operating in mining areas to be removed from mining sites.
He has also directed the dismissal of some nine mining inspectors across the country for their negligence in the fight against illegal mining.
The nine officers, were in charge of monitoring mining activities in each of the nine mining zones in the country.
John Peter Amewu has also questioned the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Dr. Tony Aubyn, over a prospecting license given to Okobeng Mining within the period of the Ministry’s directive to halt all mining activities.
The small scale mining company operates in the Nzema East Municipality of the Western Region.
By Mercy C. Adjabeng|3FM|3news.com|Ghana