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Tue, Sep

Ghanaian security officials with detained illegal Chinese miners. File image courtesy of Gh Headlines

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Because it beats imagination that a foreigner, and for that matter a Chinese, will arrive in the country and the next day he is on his way to the deepest of our forests in one part of the country to prospect for gold.
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The ball of illegal mining is squarely in our court and the clear admission by the Chinese envoy in Ghana last week said it all.


According to him, Chinese illegal miners were doing what they were doing because they had the cooperation of highly placed locals. Fact?

He may have spoken the minds of many well-meaning Ghanaians who on a daily basis struggle to understand why some of our own will choose to pollute precious water sources of fellow citizens when water, we know, is life.

It has been happening under our very eyes in broad daylight and under the cover of darkness, but who is holding the bull by the horn?

War

The ever-losing war against illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, has got many to suspect exactly what the Chinese envoy laid bare.

Because it beats imagination that a foreigner, and for that matter a Chinese, will arrive in the country and the next day he is on his way to the deepest of our forests in one part of the country to prospect for gold.

Definitely, there would have been prior conversations, sponsored research and an emphatic urge and open arms by some locals, highly placed at that, urging these foreigners to come. And they come with their financial strength and doubtful technical know-how to do what they are doing, damn the devastating consequences to our citizens.

As he paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, last week, the Chinese Ambassador, Mr Lu Kun, gave an indication that his government back home would not condone the participation of any Chinese in illegal mining in Ghana.

He added that the Chinese government did not approve the procedures some Chinese nationals and other foreigners were using for illegal mining here.

He pointedly made it clear his worry that those Chinese participating in illegal mining were doing so because they enjoyed the cooperation of some local assemblies and chiefs, adding, “This is the root of the problem.”

Visa regime

True, that is the root of the problem. But also of concern is how those coming to engage in whatever business are issued with travel visas by our own embassies and high commissions abroad.

Looking at the stringent visa requirement and process regime by some foreign embassies and high commissions here in Ghana, one is beginning to feel that we have a rather relaxed visa regime at our foreign embassies which allows anyone to qualify to enter the country, sometimes under the guise of coming to invest.

We need to revisit some of the visa requirements into Ghana and begin to probe deeper while pursuing purpose for visit to the letter.

From the days of Aisha Whang, the alleged Chinese galamsey queen, who was arrested in 2017 at the height of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s declared war against illegal mining, it became clear that there were highly placed locals actively engaged in the seemingly profitable illegal mining trade.

With the clout she was alleged to have had, it is unfortunate that Aisha was deported too quickly for us to have made any sense of what, who, when, where and the hows concerning illegal mining.

Operation Halt

The issue of illegal mining and destruction to water bodies and farmlands has been revisited and this time with extra vim by the Ghana Armed Forces’ Operation Halt Team.

Last week saw one of the saddest days of illegal mining operations in the country for some of us. The live videos which made the rounds in the media and on social media are enough for us to rise as a country to once again, standing on humanitarian grounds, jointly call for an immediate halt to this wanton destruction of our country by a few.

Last month, while travelling to Takoradi, I came face to face with the shocking reality of the damage of galamsey.

River Pra is a shadow of its former self and a disgrace to a country that boasts of a near 70 per cent of the population being Christians.

The dire consequences of illegal mining out there in the environment cannot be a show of love for one’s neighbour.

Galamsey is a big thorn in Ghana’s flesh at the moment and may be for some time to come. That is why we need a collective resolve and an unshaken commitment from the government to stamp it out for good. Otherwise, any effort will only be a window dressing.

Operation Halt Team’s exercise may be helpful in the interim; its sustainability is not guaranteed. The ball, therefore, is squarely in our court.

Writer’s E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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