Sand winners adopt new modus operandi

General News of Monday, 24 July 2017



Sand WinningSand winning in Ghana

One practice that is fast destroying the ecology of the coastline, stretching from Moree, Cape Coast, through to Elmina, is sand winning.

The hitherto attractive sandy coast which the region prided itself in as a tourist attraction is being eroded as a result of sand winning. Recent studies show that up to eight tipper trucks loaded with sand leave sites that have been identified along the coastline as being devastated by the activity, with some of these areas recording in excess of 70 tipper trucks liftings each day.

The trucks which operate into the wee hours of the night scoop the sand from the shores and sell to organisations and construction sites in the metropolis.

The activities of the sand winners do not only negatively affect the recreational coastal lines but also destroy the coconut trees that serve as windbreaks for houses along the coast.

This wanton destruction of the coast has been a grave concern not only to stakeholders such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but also district assemblies, among other government agencies, mandated by law to enforce and monitor these activities.

During a visit to the coastal areas where sand winning is ongoing it was observed that some major national infrastructure such as roads and the castle are being threatened by the ravages of the angry sea. What this means is that the government will have to pay attention to these areas and divert resources (if there are any) to build defence walls to prevent these important facilities from being consumed by the ravaging sea.

The security agencies periodically undertake operations deep into the night to clamp down on some recalcitrant truck owners, but the activities persist. Somewhere last year, the security operatives decided to intensify their operations by patrolling the coastlines throughout the night.

But as they (the enforcement agencies) “learn to shoot without missing,” the nation wreckers also ”decide to fly without perching.”

In other words, as the enforcement agencies strategise to clamp down on the perpetrators, they also learn to operate without being caught.

Modus Operandi

The sand winners now undertake illegal activity in broad-day light, in order to outwit the security agencies. The illegal operators now gather quantities, the weight of cement bags, about 20 or 30.

They then fill these bags and move them to the roadside, where they are subsequently moved in batches of five or ten in taxis.

Some even use the services of pillion riders to cart the sand from the construction site for a fee of GH¢3.00 per bag.

Those who cannot afford to transport the bags of sand in the day, hide them in the bushes and go for them later in the night.

What is most worrying is that in some of the communities, the perpetrators operate their business with the tacit support of the residents.

In an area in Elmina where the erosion is extensive, sand winning is given some legitimacy as the sand winners pay part of the money they make out of their booty to an elderly man who stands watch to direct affairs.

Lest I forget, one other issue that hit me with awe at the Duakro stretch of the shore is how the beach has been heavily polluted by plastics and faecal matter.

Periodically, personnel of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), undertake cleaning at the beaches. Unfortunately, the refuse gathered is left again at the beach only to be slept into the sea when it rains.

A United States based environmentalist, Mr Duke Nudanu, who expressed shock at the scene, called for a strict enforcement of the environmental laws.

He said in some jurisdictions, people used the sand to enhance the beauty of the beach, but not to engage in activities that destroyed it.

“You must afforest the beach front by planting fibrous roots trees such as coconut, that hold the land firm,” he said.

May I also add my voice to the call by the international environmentalist, that the laws must work and again, may I humbly appeal to the hunters (security agencies) to endeavour to get the birds (sand winners), even if they refuse to fly without perching.

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