Former Minister Indicts Chinese Envoy Over Galamsey

Inusah Fuseini

Former Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, has dropped a bombshell, saying then Chinese Ambassador made every effort to frustrate the ministry’s fight against illegal mining, popularly called ‘galamsey.’

He said, “He (Ambassador) offered me a scholarship but I refused,” the former Minister told Citi FM in Accra yesterday while contributing to the ongoing discussions to find lasting solution to the ‘galamsey’ menace, which has destroyed most water bodies in the country.

He said he sensed that the Ambassador’s overtures were all part of the strategy to get him to relax his fight against ‘galamsey’ operators, which involved the arrests and deportation of foreigners, including the Chinese, who are dominating in the illegal mining sector.

Sour Relationship

According to Alhaji Fusieni, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central, when the Ambassador found him unyielding, the relationship between Ghana and China took a nosedive.

“There were some changes in China’s relations with Ghana,” he said, adding “when I started the operation to clean the small-scale mining sector of illegalities, they reviewed the visa regime for Ghanaians… before you go to China, your application had to be sent to China before you got approval. It was also now difficult for government officials to immediately obtain visas to go to China.”

He said, “People believe that was because of the fight and after the pressure, people started drawing my attention to those things.”

He said the Ambassador visited him in his office severally in a bid to get him to soften his stance on Chinese in ‘galamsey,’ adding that “I received a lot of pressure from all corners.”

The former minister said the Ambassador had insisted that the Chinese were engaged in ‘legitimate’ businesses in the country and had blamed Ghanaians for luring his compatriots into illegal mining and therefore deserved some measure of leniency.

Heavy Investment

“He (Chinese Ambassador) came to try and convince me that the Chinese who were in Ghana doing small-scale mining were doing lawful business… he came to me to exact sympathy from me saying the Chinese have invested a lot in the small scale mining sector and ought to be allowed to continue but I said no!”

He said it was unnecessary for current sector Minister John Peter Amewu to beg the current Chinese ambassador to help the government to address the illegal mining menace.

He said the Mr Amewu needs the law in order to save the environment.

“No! you don’t beg the Chinese. As a minister, you swear to uphold the laws of this country. Illegal small-scale mining is illegal. It violates the laws of this country and as a minister, if you swear on the laws, you have to use the cohesive power of the State,” he insisted.

Drones Initiative

He recounted how the stakeholders in the mining sector thwarted his efforts to deploy drones as part of the fight against the menace.

“…Drones were little creatures like toys which are manufactured to fly with cameras, so when you deploy them, they will give you real time report about how ‘galamsey’ activities are taking place. Indeed in Malaysia, drones are used to track illegal logging in their forests. Immediately a tree is felled, and the drones are within the perimeter of that illegal activities taking place, it sends real time pictures to a centre and it allows the centre to deploy investigators immediately to the site, and there is a real possibility of arresting the person who had logged the tree.”

“To extend it to tractors means he (Peter Amewu) wants to know where the earth-moving equipment are at any particular, given time so that if they are in the mining areas, he could reasonably say that these earth-moving equipment are not doing the work for which they were imported into this country in order to descend on them.”

By William Yaw Owusu