Lands Minister warns politicians, chiefs financing galamsey to stop

Lands and Forestry Minister John Peter Amewu has warned government will not spare anyone in its effort to combat illegal mining known as galamsey.

He has served notice to politicians, chiefs and other Ghanaians who are backing the illegal miners to desist from same forthright else they would be dealt with if they are found culpable.

Speaking on the Joy FM’s Top Story programme Tuesday, Mr Amewu said government will act swiftly because the political will to stamp out the practice is high.

A major discourse in the country for the past month has been about the activities of illegal miners that are degrading the forests and polluting water bodies.

The Tano River in the Brong Ahafo Region has dried up for the first time in 40 years, a development blamed on illegal mining.

Related Article: Water crisis: Tano River dries up for the first time in 40 years

These activities are carried out by some Ghanaians with their Chinese counterparts in largely poor communities in the country.

Last Friday, six Chinese were arrested in the Western Region for illegally mining in the Ankobrah River, muddying it beyond use.

Mr Amewu has indicated his preparedness to save Ghana’s environment by discouraging the practice.

On Monday, the Minister met with the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohong to discuss with her how she could work with government to discourage the Chinese from going into illegal mining.

At the end of the discussion, Mr Amewu begged the Chinese Ambassador to speak to her fellow nationals.

Some Ghanaians were displeased with the tone of the Minister, suggesting his posture indicates he is not in the position to end the menace.

But Mr Amewu said he was not soft on the Chinese as it has been claimed in the public. “I spoke with passion…I made an appeal.”

He said the reason Ghana has not been able to end the practice is because previous governments adopted militant and combative approach. “They have not worked.”

He said they are coming with a more sustainable approach to end the practice and save the environment.

Upper Denkyira West Member of Parliament (MP), Nsonwah Gyan, has asked government to tread cautiously in its attempt to flush out illegal miners.

He said galamsey has become the main source of livelihood for many people, adding any attempt to discourage the practice without an alternative source of livelihood will not work.

“My constituency will be most affected if these galamseyers are flashed out because about 10,000 people are into in this industry and for that the government has to take a second look at it,” he said.

Although he admitted illegal mining has led to the pollution of the rivers in his Constituency, Mr Gyan said it has employed “so many young people” who are also taking care of their families.