Former Member of Parliament for Akwatia, a constituency notorious for illegal mining, Baba Jamal, says the chorus against illegal mining is not well informed.
He told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show if care is not taken, stopping illegal mining known in local parlance as galamsey, could create more problems for the country.
There is a groundswell of anger against galamsey in the wake of a bleak projection by the Water Research Institute that Ghana could be importing water in the not too distant future.
Already, some river bodies that served as the source of water for treatment plants have either dried up or been badly polluted.
The prospects of Ghana facing a water crisis and the wanton destruction of the country’s vegetative cover by Ghanaians and their Chinese collaborators burrowing under the earth’s surface in search of gold has jolted many Ghanaians into a frenzy.
There have been loud calls on government, particularly the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, to clamp down on the illegal activities of galamseyers.
But Baba Jamal who is also a former Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations says stopping galamsey without a detailed plan on how to cater for the needs of the teeming youth could create bigger problems for the country.
He said the problems caused by illegal mining are serious. “I am against galamsey,” he maintained.
But an immediate stop to the business of galamsey is not the answer, he insisted.
Baba Jamal said the legal regime for small-scale mining which is legal must be addressed.
“We need to regularise illegal mining and protect the environment,” Baba Jamal said.
The use of gun-toting security men to chase illegal miners as part of efforts to stop galamsey, he believes, is simply unworkable and unsustainable.
Licensing of small-scale mining should be decentralised to remove the tired bureaucratic inertia which forces miners to mine without licenses.
He said people who apply for mining licenses have to travel to Accra and in almost all cases, it takes an unreasonably long time and laborious processes to obtain a license.
Unable to wait for the long processes before being licensed, people start mining.
District Assemblies, Baba Jamal, said must be involved in the licensing processes and must be empowered to revoke the license of any company that is violating the mining regulations and polluting the environment.
Until that is done, he said, using the security agencies to fight galamsey simply won’t work.
Freelance journalist, Edem Srem, told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show that it is practically impossible to rely on creating job opportunities as a means of stopping galamsey.
He said galamsey is so lucrative that no other economic activity can entice those involved in galamsey to voluntarily stop their destructive activities.
He said three million Ghanaians cannot be allowed to destroy water sources and the environment and create problems for 22 million others.