George Mireku Duker, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has stated that the continuous destruction of river-bodies across the country can lead to the importation of water.
“Our rivers are highly polluted. The liberties taken with Ghana’s environmental governance and practices must not be allowed to continue, and we need a collective effort to stem the tide. If we do not take care, we will be importing water. We must resolve to say that mining in water-bodies is a no-go area; mining deep in the centre of rivers should cease,” he added.
He made these comments when he led some journalists and a team from ‘Operation Halt II’ aboard a Ghana Air Force aircraft to conduct an aerial assessment at Wassa Dunkwa in Wassa Amenfi East Municipality of Western Region.
Mr. Duker said: “Anyone who desires to mine on any concession needs to follow the legal protocols to acquire licence”.
At the site, the illegal miners, including women bolted leaving their equipment behind. Makeshift houses erected at the site and mining equipment were burnt by the soldiers. Others were caught winning sand at the site to construct a police station.
Mr. Duker expressed disappointment as the illegal miners have left deep craters at the site without covering or filling them. “One sad thing is that the abandoned pits will collect water and children could be drowned. The sand they are winning is what we need for the reclamation; you cannot also mine and be diverting river-courses and destroying trees,” Mr. Duker said.
According to him, the ministry is in consultation with chiefs and opinion leaders to cooperate with government in fighting these against illegal activities. “We will not relent in our efforts to clamp down on the illegal miners. We must resolve the matter now to set up the river-wardens – whereby people will be permanently placed along the riverbanks to patrol 24 hours,” he added.
“The military will intermittently hover around to see if people are mining, and they will be arrested. We are going to beef-up the efforts. Surely, we can get rid of these because the time to act is now. They are destroying the minerals we have; they do not pay revenue to the state, the state is rather losing,” he concluded.