The burning yet neglected issue today is not about President John Dramani Mahama fixing frequent power outages also known as ‘dumsor’ or Nana Addo’s pledge to advance Ghana’s economy if given the chance in 2017, rather it is the threat of death faced by Ghanaians with the destruction of rivers and other water bodies thanks to the wanton destruction of land and use of poisonous chemicals in shallow unregulated mining also known as ‘galamsey’.
While state authorities have failed to contain the activities of the Illegal miners, they became emboldened, digging pits, tunnels and sluices during their operation while using chemicals such as cyanide and arsenic to wash the rocks and gold nuggets in rivers which serve as sources of livelihood for many in the gold-rich regions.
While the illegal ‘galamseyers’ defend their acts stating economic hardship, their activities have killed fish sock in rivers, led to destruction of crop lands and cost humans lives including some of the of the ‘galamseyers’.
A recent Nana Boakye Yiadom and Kojo Akoto Boateng info graph showed that 26 out of 41 Ghanaian rivers tested were heavily polluted including the Pra, Ankobrah and Tano.
The reports also showed that river Offin, Ankobrah and Birim are the second, third and fourth most polluted rivers in Ghana with a water treatment plant in the Eastern Region already forced to shut down with two others in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions under severe stress and could be shut down anytime.
Curiously however no definite policy or pledge has been offered by the presidential candidates in this year’s election including Nana Addo and John Mahama, the incumbent.
Again, although government set up an inter-ministerial taskforce to weed out the illegal miners in the system, little has since been seen of the force and although the immigration service has deported a few Chinese nationals involved in illegal mining, many foreign nationals and local collaborators continue to operate and rape the land.
Shallow mining is permitted by law, the problem however has been the failure of the state to ensure guidelines are followed and allowing foreign mining companies to do shallow mining while they applied and were given license to execute deep mining.
Why NPP’s Nana Addo, PPP’s Kwesi Ndoum, CPP’s Greenstreet and APC’s Hassan Ayariga have not seized the opportunity to champion protection of the environment against ‘galamsey’ or wanton shallow mining has been a letdown.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) might say it’s done some work but clearly more from the agency is expected at this time to protect the water bodies and facilitate arrest and prosecution of the polluters.
Chiefs cannot be spared in this quest of repelling the rapers of their environment. It is in their villages and towns that these acts happen and it should be possible backed by law that any chief who fails to notify state security agencies of activities of ‘galamsey’ operators or sell land to them must be prosecuted to put fear in traditional leaders that their irresponsible acts will no longer go without consequences.
Clearly, if elected state officials (politicians), traditional authorities, the youth and campaigners do not rally to curtail the activities of the illegal miners, we all stand to die of thirst.