A call has been made for the depoliticisation of the fight against illegal mining, popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’ to successfully clamp down on the menace.
Mr. Atta Kwadwo Apeakorang, Founder of Save the Nation for Future Leaders, a Civil Society Group, who made the call, said, politicisation of the fight against the act, could make it difficult for the menace to be completely eradicated from the country.
Speaking in an interview with Ghanaian Times over the weekend in Accra, he further urged government to intensify enforcement of mining laws to protect the environment and deter others.
“Having laws against the illegal act is not enough to combat the menace but ensuring that all persons caught in the act of illegal mining, irrespective of their political affiliation are brought to book and punished severely, will serve as a deterrent to others,” added.
He further called on authorities and politicians in general, to allow security agencies operate independently in the arrest and prosecution of persons found culpable of all crimes relating to illegal mining.
Touching on the dangers of illegal mining, Mr. Apeakorang noted that illegal mining, could cause significant environmental pollution adding that chemicals used in mining were a source of long-term contamination of soil and water bodies.
He said such activities also create limited access to land for agriculture, among other inconveniences.
“Mining in certain areas leads to deforestation as trees are cleared to pave way for mining activity. The clearing of trees or forests contributes to climate change. Also, it is highly possible for improper and illegal mining to result in natural calamities like landslides and floods which can cause death to animals and people.”
“Mineshafts can collapse, causing death to people underground,” he added.
Explaining further, he mentioned that several researches had revealed that miners could suffer from some skin diseases, lungs, and respiratory problems which are caused by the chemicals released into the air and water from the mining zones.
Considering the dangerous effects of illegal mining activities, he said if efforts made towards fighting the menace were not intensified, the country would continue to suffer it’s consequences, saying nothing was worth putting the lives of the future leaders at risk.
Mr. Apeakorang also bemoaned that foreigners, particularly, chinese nationals were also involved in galamsey activities in the country adding that such individuals must not only be deported when caught, but made to face the law.
He commended government for the efforts directed at salvaging the situations so far but called for more action to totally clamp down on illegal mining in the country, adding that even if it would take sentencing perpetrators of such crimes to life imprisonment, it was far better than allowing just a section of the public to put the lives of everyone at risk because of their selfish gains.