When the first-ever national exercise to reclaim illegally mined sites in the country finally takes off, one of the communities likely to reap maximum benefit from the exercise will be Nsiana, a town in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region which is regarded as one of the worst affected galamsey communities in the country.
With vast stretches of its arable land devastated by widespread illegal mining and rivers polluted, the future looks bleak for the people who have remained powerless in the face of what they describe as the influence of some top people in the illegal business.
That was why the Chief of Nsiana, Nana Kwabena Acheampong, welcomed the decision by the government to reclaim illegally mined sites.
During a visit by the Daily Graphic to the town, the chief noted that without government intervention, it would be very difficult for the community to carry out the reclamation, in view of the huge cost involved.
The reclamation programme
President John Dramani Mahama recently announced the programme, to be undertaken by the government, in conjunction with the World Bank and the Chinese government, which will provide the funds and the machinery, respectively.
As part of the exercise, The youth engaged in galamsey will be engaged in the exercise to serve as an alternative livelihood programme for them.
“The chiefs and people of this town commend President Mahama for the decision. We are looking forward to the start of the exercise, which will bring a great deal of hope to the people, many of whom have had their farms destroyed by galamsey operators,” Nana Acheampong said.
The visit to Nsiana came almost two years after the police averted a potentially bloody encounter between armed illegal Chinese miners and the youth of the community who were bent on forcing the Chinese out.
Though the plan failed to materialise following the intervention of the police, the residents threatened to arm themselves to attack the Chinese miners and drive them out of the community.
That was later shelved, as the chiefs decided to rely on the state to undertake the eviction of the illegal miners.
Even though some illegal miners are still operating in the area, after what appears to be a lax in the efforts of the security agencies to flush them out, others operating in other parts, including the site where the clash took place, have left the mine sites, leaving behind a number of virtual death traps and environmental threats.
Nana Acheampong, who took the Daily Graphic round to see the level of destruction left behind by the galamsey operators, said about 60 per cent of the arable land had been consumed by galamsey.
Several disused pits are spread across mined areas.
It was learnt that two years after the riots between the gun-wielding Chinese galamsey operators and the locals, three children, two of them final-year SHS students, had died in the abandoned pits.
Cash and food crop farms have been destroyed, with mine owners paying a pittance to crop owners.
The chief, therefore, urged President Mahama to pursue the programme to its logical conclusion, saying when fully implemented, it would be one of the President’s greatest achievements.
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