The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and with support from it’s taskforce and the military have arrested five galamsey operators in the Bosomtwe Range Forest Reserve in the Bekwai Forest District of the Ashanti Region.
Despite the ban on illegal mining in forest reserves and on water bodies, these illegal miners or galamsey operators defied President Nana Akufo-Addo’s directives and took hold of the Bsomtwe Range Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.
Speaking in an interview with the media on Tuesday, 23rd August, 2022, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Lands and Forestry said the suspects were arraigned before the Bekwai Circuit Court but a couple of them have been granted bail.
He added that Hundreds of galamsey operators have invaded the Bosomtwe Range Forest Reserve in a way that left the Forestry Commission officials bemused.
He made this known when he lead a delegation from the Lands Ministry, the Forestry Commission and the Ghana Armed Forces to embark on an operation in the forest to know the extent of destruction caused by the illegal miners.
When the team got into the Reserve, it came to light that several hectares of the forest cover had been destroyed by the galamsey operators, who had abandoned their equipment and run for cover.
They have created four illegal mining sites about the size of sports stadium in the reserve with excavators, changfan machines, fuel storage tanks and other equipment seen on site, which were later burnt by the Deputy Minister and his team
Hon. Owusu-Bio in his response to the media pointed out that galamsey operators have recently been drawn to the reserve and it is a source of worry to the Ministry and to government.
He called on the judiciary to expedite action on those arrested and prosecute them. “Some of them have been arrested and being processed to court in Bekwai. A couple of them have been granted bail. In fact, we are praying with the court to expedite action on the case, so they can be prosecuted and jail them,” he said.
According to him, this is the third time that he has visited Bosomtwe Range Forest Reserve and described the place as an endemic galamsey area. “But then what we keep saying is that the forest reserves and water bodies are no-go areas. They are red zones. So anyone found doing this, we will follow it to the letter to get them arrested.
He announced that their random visits to the forests will not end at the Bosomtwe Range Forest but also other forest reserves in other regions, while thanking the taskforce and the Military for a good work done. “We are here today and we will be going to other forest reserves to monitor what is happening there. I am very grateful thank the taskforce here,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, John Allotey, said they are now collecting data on the forest reserves destroyed by the illegal miners.
He described the galamsey activities in the forest reserves as very devastating to the environment. “The last decade, our focus was on illegal chainsaw operators and the bush fire prevention and others. “But, at the moment, we have to deal with galamsey menace. It’s becoming dangerous and bigger due to the impact,” he stated.