The ongoing “war” waged by government against illegal miners has already chalked some successes.
But like many believe, Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu cannot continue going round inspecting and stopping illegal miners across the country.
He will eventually wear out of energy and resources. Even as he is going round, we’ve heard of those who do the illegal thing in the night.
We also know of the many Chinese nationals who are hiding in rented houses and hotels in Wassa Akropong and its environs, hoping Mr. Amewu, and for that matter government wears out of energy so they could return the illegality.
We even know of those who are using the ban period as a time to fix their excavators for a “possible” return. We know of all that. It is now imperative for government to roll out its proposed five-year solution to ending the menace.
While at that, government and other stakeholders may consider these suggestions:
This ban period, even though not 100 percent complied is a fine opportunity for the government to get it right this time.
1. As majority of the miners have stopped, deploy a team of mining inspectors to example the Prestea Huni Valley District. Task them to identify people with funds to genuinely invest in small scale and “medium” scale mining.
Open a register and run a public radio announcement to that effect. Let the inspectors NOT dwell so much on the already compromised Small Scale Mining Association members. Some of them are compromised. Now, after doing that for a month, you could have about 50 “leaders” wanting to invest in genuine small scale, and 30 willing for “medium” scale.
2. Run another public announcement for members in the district who say their livelihood depend on mining to register with the team of expert you have deployed. This should comprise of excavator operators, women who carry the ore, grinders, washers and those who sell food items. [Tell the team that they will get shocked by the many children below 18 years showing up to register] Take the opportunity to announce for submission of application by persons who will want to join the government’s tree planting team. NB: This whole registration should take up to three months.
3. Hire some of the people who do prospecting for the small scale miners to join a team of Mineral Prospecting Officers from Minerals Commission to identify areas where the minerals are deposited. [Those prospectors should be part of Minerals Commission’s officers for a good reason]. Now, by the technology this team will use, they should be able to identify areas suitable for small scale investors with traditional tools, and areas good for medium scale miners with excavators.
NB: River bodies are a no go area! The ban could be lifted when this team has finished its work.
4. Let the big mining firms who are ready to release some of their concessions, or who have failed to work on their concessions do so to curtail people secretly going to their concessions to dig.
5. Now, get the investors in both small and medium scale to employ the people identified and registered in point 2 above. Ban the investors from engaging non registered people in the communities. Then put them in a cooperative of some sort. After they are absorbed, give the areas zoned to the investors according to their interest and strength.
6. At this point, get your field inspectors in place. You can call them Mining Police, just like the Marine Police. They must have a reclamation plan in place. They should be enough in number such that, they can do their “policing” work effectively. After an investor and his group members are done mining on a concession, they team up with the inspectors to reclaim the land and plant trees on the concession.
7. When the inspectors are satisfied with the reclamation work done by one investor and his group members, a new zone will be opened to them.
8. Traditional authorities in these districts are a force to reckon with. Let the Office of Administrator of Stool Lands work on their royalties quicker to discourage chiefs from giving out their lands to nonregistered members.
9. Introduce Water Resource Police. Get the Water Resource Commission Police to team up with the Minerals Commission inspectors above to police the major river bodies.
10. For the Chinese, get a directorate to deal with them. Have a division at the Minerals Commission which will take inventory of foreigners who wish to provide the “technical support” the small scale mining act 1989, Act 218 talked about. Their restaurants and all manner of things springing up in Wassa Akropong; sorry, Wassa Shanghai needs to be regulated. Their booming retailing business MUST be stopped in compliance with the laws of Ghana.
Government will have to fast track the setting in motion of some of these recommendations to avert a possible come back of the illegal miners, for their accumulated wealth are fast depleting.
By: Obrempong Yaw Ampofo/citifmonline.com/Ghana
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