TALKING DRUM: One reason Amewu will fail fighting galamsey

It is one news item that has succeeded securing a spot on almost every aspect of Ghana’s news media. Ordinarily, topical issues in my country take at most a week to be talked about in the media then we find it a ‘resting’ place. However, like the dreaded disease called Ebola, illegal mining popularly referred to as ‘Galamsey’ in the Ghanaian parlance has had the young and the old chatting around it with a great concern. Pressure group, Occupy Ghana in its own way has waged war on the illicit activity that has seen many of our water bodies extremely polluted. According to the group, Ghanaians are urged to wear red apparels on every Friday in April, 2017. Hence, christening it the Red April Campaign. It has subsequently charged government to “stop, prevent and then regulate all currently unlicensed and unregulated mining, and support mass education on the galamsey menace particularly through local civil society. And be mindful of the potential national security threat that galamsey poses,” reports Graphic Online. Occupy Ghana is not alone in this fight. The 2016 flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom among many Ghanaians have pledged their support to campaign against galamsey. On April 1. 2017, the man nicknamed Adwuma Wura made good use of his media conglomerate across the country in speaking about the menace of galamsey. Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom’s galamsey talk themed “Galamsey: Our land, our future,” had thousands of viewers and listeners interacting with him on his Facebook page. One thing ran through the viewers and listeners’ comments. They want galamsey to be cracked down by government. Indeed, massive pressure is on government to ensure galamsey becomes a thing of the past so people do not rely on sachet water to survive in areas badly affected by the act. More so, while people in these galamsey zones strive for daily survival, business owners are not left out of the struggle-to-exist syndrome. Telecommunication mogul, MTN says it has been hard hit by the activities of people digging everywhere in search of gold. The Galamseyers end up cutting MTN’s laid fibres.

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According to a story on Citifmonline dated and titled April 2, 2017, “Galamsey impeding quality of our service delivery– MTN,” respectively, the telecommunication network says it recorded about 1, 200 times of fibre cut in 2016. “The phenomenon which accounts for congestion and call drops and network outages is taking a new dimension besides road construction. Within the corridors of Damang, Huni Valley, Ateiku, Wassa Dadieso and Wassa Akropong where we have our infrastructure laid. “You see that galamsey operators have encroached on the right of way that MTN has rightly secured from either Urban Roads Department or Ghana Highway Authority. What they do is that, once they come closer to the cable, they physically cut them off interrupting or totally shutting down the network,” said Western Regional Technical Manager of MTN, Teddy Hayford Acquah. It’s sad. Isn’t it? The good news, however, is that our government is not sleeping on this request to end galamsey. It is up on its feet making frantic efforts to curb the menace. My little worry, here, is the approach adopted by Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu. If not for anything, I have heard and read two of Mr. Amewu’s approaches to tackling galamsey. The first being the use of drones to fish out the illegal miners and second, the ‘begging’ approach- where he is reported to have begged Chinese Ambassador to Ghana to advise his nationals desist from the act. Both of these approaches are commendable. The drones will certainly travel far and zoom in on the illegal miners for onward arrest. Similarly, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Sun Baohong may succeed getting to stop some of her nationals from trading in the illegal mining activity here in Ghana. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that even when we go for Aljazeera to mount its cameras on these illegal miners it will not intimidate them from mudding the waters for cash. Moreover, illegal mining will not stop even when we contract Japan to hang in the skies a sign telling the world leaders to inform their nationals not to engage in such a trade in Ghana Why? The answer is simple and straight forward but it appears to Mr. Peter Amewu so hard to find as one searching for snow in hell. Simply, tackle the source. If men are chasing one’s wife who do not do so putting the woman under duress, does he go about begging these men to stop? Sadly, this is Peter Amewu’s approach. He leaves the ‘wife’ home and diplomatically engages in talks with his ‘rivals.’ I thought that when Ghanaians voted for change, it meant we seeing real change. Perhaps it may come but it seems, to me, the New Patriotic Party is somehow copying answers the National Democratic Congress wrote and failed. After the country’s 2014 cholera outbreak, the then government instituted the National Sanitation Day (NSD). For them, it was a means to get Ghanaians do away with sanitation related diseases. When I heard about the NSD for the first time, I realised that it had no vision. Yes. We tell people to make all the filth in six days and on the first Saturday of every month we gather and sweep the gutters and the streets. And the cycle continues. The National Sanitation Day was and is one of the greatest jokes of the NDC government as class one pupils could have suggested a more suitable way of doing away with filth. Here, we have Peter Amewu likely to fail because of this obvious one reason; ignoring to tackle the source of our problems. Mr. Minister, it is empirical evidence that many of us cannot produce but you would admit the issue of galamsey has to do with some chiefs and politicians being behind it. Who gives these lands to the Chinese to mine? Are we saying as the Chinese get down from the airplanes they navigate their ways to the Eastern, Western and Brong Ahafo regions among others to set up their machines and dig for gold? Certainly, no. We must deal with the very people behind the act. Our elders were right when they said that when the cockroach wants to rule over the chicken it hides the fox as its bodyguard. Indeed, until we have something scary enough to cripple our source of fear, then we are not fighting enough. By Solomon Mensah The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy. Email: [email protected]
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