Illegal mining activities, popularly called ‘ galamsey”, are still going on in the Ellembele district of the Western Region. This is in spite of ban on the activity by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. To nip their activities in the bud, the District Security Council last week stormed the various sites to arrest some illegal miners.
This exercise, which lasted for about an hour and thirty minutes, was dubbed ‘operation zero tolerance against galamsey’. Two excavator operators and a financier were arrested at the end of the day. The suspects were sent to the police station to be charged and prosecuted at the law court. Some of the galamseyers who got wind of the operation vanished from their sites before the team got there.
Illegal mining activities are going on with impunity at Ellembele because it is believed that there are powerful hands behind it. At Bokazo New Site, for instance, where the arrests were made, the galamseyers operate in broad daylight right at the centre of the community. The District Chief Executive, Kwasi Bonzoh, however says they will all be arrested and brought to book regardless of the forces behind them. He stressed that his office would not tolerate any person or group of persons who come begging for the release of the culprits.
This, he said, would serve as a deterrence to others. According to Mr Bonzoh, anything short of such arrests and prosecution will make Ellembele a galamsey district, pledging to sustain the operation.
In an interview with journalists, he disclosed that the operation was planned three weeks ago following refusal by the illegal miners to stop their activities. He said the miners resurfaced two months ago after a hectic fight against their activities last year, reiterating that they would be clamped down with the law being applied to the letter.
DCE Bonzoh reminded them that illegal mining destroys the environment and water bodies. He added that the activity is a crime against the nation just like armed robbery and is punishable by law. He said the ‘galamseyers’ have no reason to use absence of jobs as an excuse for their activities since they can conveniently obtain licenses and concessions to mine legally.
The district police commander, ASP Francis Hlordzi Dodzi, identified inadequate manpower as major hindrance to the fight against the menace and called for more uniformed personnel at Ellembele.