Contemplating that Ghana risks becoming a net importer of water is startling, but Minister for Water Resources and Sanitation, Cecilia Dapaah, made that assertion at the second edition of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) conference held in the northern Regional capital, Tamale, recently.
The minister actually pointed out the fact that if steps are not taken to halt the activities of illegal miners who pollute river bodies and decimate forest reserves, then in twenty years’ time the country could well be on the path to importing water – and that is not something we want to contemplate as a nation.
That is why we need to put in perspective lifting the ban on small-scale mining with the notion that illegal miners’ activities will be regularised and their capacities built to undertake responsible mining.
The war waged on illegal mining must not be declared over until we are sufficiently convinced that people will not regroup to go and undertake the sort of illegal mining activity that we have come to loathe and refer to as ‘galamsey’.
We are witnesses to the environmental damage that illegal miners cause, to the extent that even water-bodies are heavily polluted and left desolated; we cannot sit aloof and pretend that things will return to normalcy if we do not put in the necessary measures.
Government has waged a relentless two-year battle with illegal miners, which became a national assignment until recently when the ban on small-scale mining activities was lifted to afford people the right to pursue livelihoods…but in a regulated manner.
We are afraid that if care is not taken, this can be misinterpreted to mean the floodgates are open to prospect for gold and other precious metals to the detriment of the environment and sustainable development.
Therefore, this Paper wishes to urge the powers that be to not let their guard down but remain ever-vigilant to catch early any would-be miner that does not factor protection of the environment into his/her endeavours.
This is why it is imperative that they are licenced by the Minerals Commission and their activities can be monitored and evaluated. Miners have to bear in mind that we owe posterity a healthy environment, just as how we came to meet one and have benefitted immensely from it.
We cannot be considered responsible citizens when we bequeath a degraded and destroyed environment to our coming generations.