In a bid to solve the incessant pollution of water-bodies by illegal mining activities, also known as ‘galamsey’, government says in the coming days it will introduce the use of speed-boats and river guards to clamp down on the perpetrators of such activities.
River-bodies have been officially declared ‘Red Zones’ for mining, and authorities have suspended reconnaissance, prospecting and exploration in forest reserves except in exceptional circumstances.
However, there are some recalcitrant entities which are still operating on the country’s water-bodies, thereby making the rivers and lakes unsafe.
Giving a keynote address at the maiden Environmental Sustainability Summit (ESS) organised by the B&FT under the theme ‘The socio-economic impact of pollution on the environment and natural life’, Deputy Minister, Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, noted that to efficiently limit polluting activities, the speed-boats will be used by river guards to augment other security activities.
“Forest guards of the Forestry Commission have been working with the relevant security agencies to enforce this ban, and we are in the process of recruiting and training river guards to protect our river-bodies. In a few days’ time, we are going to launch new speed-boats. We are going to use the river guards to chase galamseyers on the river-bodies,” he emphasised.
Mr. Owusu-Bio also used the occasion to highlight some other major interventions being implemented by the ministry to address challenges in environmental sustainability.
“The ministry has also placed a ban on the manufacture and sale of the floating platforms popularly referred to as ‘Changfan’, which are normally used for illegal mining within river-bodies. In partnership with the Ministry of Defence, ‘Operation Halt It’ has been launched to support law enforcement measures.
“The National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) has been introduced to provide alternative sources of livelihood for those affected by the fight against illegal mining. Community mining schemes have been revamped and operational manuals developed to promote responsible and environmentally-sound small-scale mining,” he said.
The deputy minister further expressed government’s commitment to ensuring that the environment is safe, sustainable, devoid of pollutants and activities leading to degradation of natural resources.
“The ministry is fully committed to ensuring environmental sustainability, and is ready to partner any institutions which complement its efforts in this direction. We have a collective duty as a people to leave a cleaner, healthier and better environment for our coming generations than we have today,” he noted.