One piece of good news we had over the weekend had to do with personnel from the Operation Vanguard Taskforce in the Ashanti Region fiercely engaging illegal miners on the Oda and Offin rivers as well as other areas within the communities.
As we would recall, the gallant fight had been encouraged by the Eminent Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who had decided to be at the forefront of development, after accomplishing the gigantic task of helping to douse a major lingering conflict in the northern region of Ghana.
The taskforce, we were told, arrested five persons, including four Chinese nationals identified as Li Xuh Jun, 51, Mo Chi Cai, 52, Wei Fun Ham, 45, and Wei Ziyun, 38.
Four other suspects, who claimed to be national security personnel but who were met on site providing protection to the gang and another, Yusif Fuseini, are also assisting police in the investigation.
The report concludes on the team destroying 30 platforms and accompanying mining logistics. Weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle, a magazine filled with 13 live ammunitions, three pump action guns with nine live cartridges, were seized and so was a pump action gun loaded with three cartridges also retrieved from the suspects.
Activities of illegal miners, especially those engaged in alluvial mining, have been the source of pollution of the Oda and Offin rivers in Ashanti Region.
Their activities have not only polluted the water bodies and increased their acidity and poison levels, but also added to cost of producing water for domestic and industrial consumption, apart from killing aquatic life and reducing forest cover.
As we are aware, the Oda and Offin water bodies are the major sources of water for communities within their catchment area. Residents depend on them for farming and fishing activities.
Unfortunately, this source of livelihood is threatened because of illegal activities of the largely informal economy operators who are resisting any effort to sanitise the situation and put in place win-win structures for communities, the nation and economic actors.
Since the President launched the Operation Vanguard Taskforce and a committee that would reform the industry, public opinion has been that the government has not shown enough commitment in investigation, arresting, prosecuting and engineering solutions to redeem and transform the vibrant industry.
Reports about negligence and corruption among state actors and acquiescing youth and traditional leaders as well as thieving Chinese had put a damper on the otherwise noble initiative – until this massive intervention under the new Minister.
The fact is that most Ghanaians haven’t seen enough deterrence and effort at transformation since the launch of the vision. Even the pigheaded youth knew that state actors were compromising their mandate and so got back into their delinquent hog skins.
No nine-day wonder
The new Minister must prove to Ghanaians and the delinquent Chinese, youth and traditional authorities that this would not be a nine-day wonder.
He must prove his mettle because we have seen all images of bravado like these before, and how it ended in armed youth fighting state security agencies for space on the gold mine fields.
We commend Otumfuo for his support and encouragement, but we also trust that the state, government and party actors would not replace the pigheaded youth and thieving Chinese, in filling their pockets at the expense of our collective interest.