Africa-Press – Ghana. The government has not commissioned any illegal mining taskforce from Jubilee House, Mr. George Mireku-Duker, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has said.
He said that any such team operating illegally under the guise of Jubilee House must be reported to the security services, adding, “The only task force mandated to check the activities of illegal miners is the military’s operation vanguard.”
Mr. Mireku-Duker was addressing an emergency stakeholder meeting involving chiefs from the 15 mining districts on illegal mining activities in the Eastern Region as well as the wanton destruction of water bodies in the area.
He stated that the role of chiefs in supporting government strategies could not be underestimated because they were custodians of culture and sacred natural resources such as water bodies.
A few months ago, the Ministry inaugurated district mining committees for the 15 mining districts in the region to lead the campaign against irresponsible mining, especially those activities destroying water bodies.
“Unfortunately, the district mining committees are not working as expected, the destruction of water bodies continues unabated, and we think that it’s time to engage the chiefs to step up their traditional roles of gatekeeping,” Mr. Mireku-Duker said.
The Birim River, one of the major water sources for the Ghana Water Company and serving millions of people in the Eastern Region and part of the Greater Accra Region, is badly polluted due to illegal mining activities.
On his part, Mr. Seth Acheampong, the Eastern Regional Minister, added that the Regional Security Committee had not set up any parallel taskforce aside from Operation Vanguard and urged the district mining committees to quickly report any such taskforce to the Police.
He also advised chiefs leading the anti-galamsey campaigns in their communities to do so with the Police or other state security agencies for thorough investigations.
Earlier, Okogyeaman Apagya Fori, the chief of Kyebi-Apapam, noted that efforts by chiefs in fighting illegal mining had not been supported with the needed logistics and mandate, and that they had become targets by the youth in their communities.
“Another issue thwarting our efforts is granting mining concessions without full involvement of chiefs. In that case, we are disregarded even when we clearly see the destruction of our water bodies and forest reserves,” he said.
He called on the government to provide chiefs with security and logistics to lead the fight against illegal mining since they were in a better position to protect lands and natural resources.