As a sign of government’s recognition of their integral and strategic role in the fight against illegal mining, Hon. George Mireku Duker, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources has engaged the Western Regional Security Council and the Eight District Mining Committees in the Western Region on the need for them to rise up and take their rightful and mandated place in the combat against illegal Mining activities across the region.
Addressing a gathering of Metropolitan, Municipal and District officials as well as traditional rulers in the Western Region, Hon. Mireku Duker drummed home the point that the anti-galamsey fight is a national and civic call to duty that must be answered with alacrity and devotion by any Ghanaian, more especially those with responsibilities in the various districts.
He emphasized that traditional authorities who are custodians of lands and culture should as a matter of urgency and necessity rise up and assume a frontal role in the fight against illegal mining.
The Deputy Minister in charge of Mining said he is not oblivious of the difficult and peculiar nature of the challenge but remains adamant that the stakeholders should work hand-in-hand with the central government to win the war against illegal mining.
Turning his attention to the persons still engaged in illegal mining, Hon. Mireku Duker warned that ‘we are coming for you’ and that whoever is apprehended by the security authorities, irrespective of his political or religious color will be put behind bars.
He stated forcefully that the government will not allow some self-serving people to destroy the country’s river bodies with their illegal activities.
He call on the Ghanaians particularly the youth to join the fight, stressing that the battle against illegal mining is a process and not an event.
“It is not an easy battle, it’s a war. It’s not an event, it is a process. We know the menace may not be totally uprooted but we can reduce it to an appreciable level. If we had not implemented certain measures the situation would have been worse. We commend the security agencies but we need to do more. Government is doing its best to turnaround the fortunes of the small-scale mining sector. It is important for us to join forces with government in the fight.
“I called on the youth to fight this battle dispassionately because it’s about their future. We should not allow partisan politics destroy this fight because it has no political colouration. All hands must therefore be on deck to fight this battle,” he said.
Hon. Mireku Duker also stated some key interventions embarked on by the government to streamline the small-scale mining sector.
He mentioned the introduction of the Community Mining Scheme which is to help regularise the activities of illegal small-scale miners through sustainable and responsible mining practices, the National Alternative Livelihood Employment Program (NALEP) which aims at providing alternative employment opportunities for Ghanaians displaced from illegal mining activities.
He also cited the training of river wardens, purchase of speedboats and constant patrol of river bodies as some measures that are already yielding positive results.
The Chief Director of the Western Regional Coordinating Council who spoke on behalf of the Western Regional Minister, Hon. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah said he is confident that the permanent solutions rolled out by government will help reduce illegal mining activities in the region.
He also added his voice to Hon. Mireku Duker’s appeals for the traditional authorities and stakeholders to play active role in the helping the government curb the illegal mining menace.