General News of Friday, 28 July 2017
The convenor of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, Mr Ken Ashigbey, is optimistic that the government’s decision to deploy the military to galamsey areas would give another momentum to the fight against illegal mining.
Rallying support for today’s Red Friday, he said a lot had been achieved in the fight against galamsey and a lot more needed to be done to ensure sustainable mining in Ghana.
“What we have decided to do is to mark every last Friday of the last month as Red Friday because, in our culture, Red is a sign of mourning and a sign of red eyes and being serious about a particular thing.
“Since the fight against illegal mining started, we have had some successes, including improvement in the turbidity of some water bodies and the moratorium on small-scale mining/ galamsey, but the illegal miners have changed their modus operandi and are going to precarious places at night,” the Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited said.
He mentioned the recent death of 22 miners in a pit at a galamsey site at Nsuta in the Western Region earlier in the month as well as the trapping of 14 others in a mine pit which caved in at Patrensa, near Konongo in the Ashanti Region, on July 23, 2017 as examples of the fact that galamsey is yet to be over.
Walking the talk
“The Red Friday is to say that the death of one Ghanaian is one too many, not to say almost 20 that have been reported and those that have been happening that we don’t know about. We want to say to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who has certainly shown political courage to put his Presidency on the line to ask his people to walk the talk,” Mr Ashigbey stated.
He also expressed concern about the way the police and the Attorney General’s Department were handling the galamsey cases, saying “the last time Aisha Huang was released on bail with her accomplices, the ruling of the judge indicted the prosecution for failing to do a good job.”
“We know that in Tarkwa, 16 Chinese were arrested but were granted bail. At Wassa Akropong, six Chinese were bailed; there is a weakness in that particular area. We need the IGP to respond to the call by the President that we should take these things seriously.
“Why is it that when these people are arrested they are not taken to court to be remanded in prison custody because they are of high flight and can leave at any time? The least we can do is to wear red on Friday to show that we are serious about this,” he added.
He said apart from the media keeping the pressure on the Executive to enforce the mining laws to the letter, it was also important to democratise the anger and go to areas where galamsey was prevalent and sensitise the citizenry to the dangers of illegal mining.
In that regard, he stated that the coalition was organising another town hall meeting in Dunkwa today to discuss the dangers of illegal mining with the chiefs, small-scale miners and the community members and educate them on its negative effects on water and the environment.
Mr Ashigbey said the coalition was working with the Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and International Association for Impact Assessment which had done some work on toxicity study, and the result was mind-boggling.
He advised some small-scale miners who were threatening to match the military boot for boot to rather look at ways they could benefit from the government’s five-year Multilateral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP).