Galamsey fight: State doesn’t owe criminals alternative livelihood- Bentil

Vice President of policy think tank IMANI Ghana is vehemently kicking against a government led provision of alternative jobs for illegal miners who have gone into hiding following the ongoing anti-galamsey crusade.

“The state does not owe criminals an alternative livelihood,” Kofi Bentil said Saturday on Joy FM’s Newsfile Programme.

He disagreed vehemently with the views initially shared on the programme by former NDC MP George Loh who argued that the way forward for a resolution of the galamsey canker is for government to train these illegal miners and provide them with alternative jobs.

Only then will the vehement fight against galamsey will be sustained, he suggested.

But Bentil thinks otherwise. He argued while it is important to sustain the fight against galamsey it must be made clear that government does not owe the illegal miners jobs.

He said the state provides jobs in different sectors of the economy and the illegal miners must take advantage of those avenues.

He was speaking on the renewed fight against illegal mining popularly called galamsey led by the media and other civil society organisation and supported by the government.

There is the coalition of media against galamsey which has seen media networks including the Multimedia group Ltd fighting to end the galamsey menace.

Illegal mining has left the country’s water bodies completely polluted and the environment left in disarray.

It is suggested that Ghana may soon be importing water in the coming years if the galamsey practice is not addressed with urgency.

The new government in complementing the fight against galamsey has issued a 21-day ultimatum for all illegal miners to leave the mining sites.

The ultimatum has elapsed and the Lands and Natural Resources Minister John Peter Amewu and his men have taken over the various mining sites and the excavators used in mining.

The Minister has outlined a plan to reengage some of the illegal ministers in other productive sectors of the economy and to prevent them from returning to the sites.

The panel on the Newsfile programme applauded the new commitment in fighting the galamsey activity.

Kofi Bentil said galamsey is the single biggest national security threat and the military must get involved in fighting the canker.

He added that it should be made contingent for every DCE to join in the fight and if any illegal mining activity is found in any locality, that DCE must be made to answer and be fired.

Editor in Chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper Kweku Baako Jnr is however a little skeptical about the sustenance of the fight against galamsey.

Given the years of collusion, underhand dealings by politicians, security officers, officials at Minerals Commission and other stakeholders in supporting the galamsay, Kweku Baako Jnr said time will tell how this campaign goes.

While he supports, in principle the 21-day ultimatum by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister which appears to be some kind of an amnesty, he said ongoing prosecution of suspects found to have engaged in illegal mining should be prosecuted and evidence of that should be seen.