The Police Commander at Manso in the Amansie West District of the Ashanti Region, DSP Yaw Asubonteng, says the presidential taskforce set up to fight illegal mining menace in the area appears to have done the community more harm than good.
According to him, it makes no sense for a taskforce to only drive away or arrest miners without any focus on ensuring that abandoned pits are covered.
The Police Commander told Kumasi-based Ultimate Radio, the overwhelming number of pits dug and abandoned by illegal Chinese miners, had become the busiest spots in the town with both men and women trooping there every day to prospect for gold.
This he says has become a threat in the community as several people have lost their lives mining in those pits. He said another source of concern was children who frequently fell in the pits and lost their lives while playing in them.
He indicated that several children had drowned in the pits when in their innocent minds they went to swim in the stagnant water.
Some 18 persons are believed to have been died in less than six months in the Amansie West District alone after illegal mining pits caved in on them, with the latest victim being a twenty nine year old mother of one.
Outlining their challenges to Ultimate Radio, the Police Commander also complained the wide nature of the Amansie West District, coupled with inadequate police personnel was hampering efforts to fully deal with the situation.
The Associate Executive Director of WACAM, a civil organization focused Society on mining issues, Hannah Owusu Koranteng, shares similar concerns about abandoned opened pits posing threat to lives and degrading the environment in mining communities. According to her, the practice is not limited to galamsey activities alone.
“If you come to Tarkwa, you will see Gold Fields Ghana Limited leaving pits, the AngloGold Ashanti concessions in Obuasi and Tarkwa, they are all leaving huge pits. So they destroy the environment but create a semblance of correcting the damage they have created and it’s all a cost to the state,” she described.
Mrs. Hannah Owusu Koranteng wants government to put in place the right legal clauses to ensure that the external cost of damaging the environment is factored into the operational cost of larger multinational mining companies.
She believes that is the only way the country can hold these companies responsible for not using environmentally friendly processes in mining and reclamation of destroyed lands.