General News of Saturday, 16 December 2017
Security expert, Kwesi Anning, says Ghana has a long way to go in ending illegal mining.
According to him, the work done by government so far to clamp down on the illegality, is far from being described as successful.
“Over a high point of 10, I will give about 5.5. In this galamsey fight, we have not arrested the people who are creating the networks, who are allowing the foreigners to do this. You cannot just come in without complicity and collusion from very important Ghanaians.”
“My suggestion is that, lets get the corruption underpinning galamsey right. Arrest those people, try them so that when we launch the mega nationwide corruption campaign, at least we know the political economy, the nationalities, the networks, the way the monies are hidden. So there is a long way to go before we can say the fight against galamsey is a success, we are far from it. We haven’t scratched the surface yet,” he said in an interview with Richard Sky on Eyewitness News.
He further said he was surprised the Commander of the government’s anti-galamsey taskforce, Operation Vanguard, seemed shocked over the discovery of sophisticated firearms being used by the illegal miners.
Col. Agyapong in an earlier interview with Citi News said, “One striking thing is the number of arms, weapons we came across. We came across as many of 58 different types of weapons. Pistols, single and double barrels, pump action guns both locally made and foreign ones. As a military personnel, it is worry that plying a simple trade like mining will have people come on board with weapons. It is a very worrying situation that we need to look at it because we don’t know the number of weapons that are still in the hands of people”.
But according to Kwesi Anning, that should have been anticipated.
“If they are surprised they found these guns in civilian hands, what were their threat perception analysis before they went out into the bush. That is very disturbing, not so much that the guns are in the hands of civilians, because that is known, but that head of such a sensitive operation did not know that these guns were in civilian hands,” Kwesi Anning said.
“We ought to have had a certain level of intelligence. So if we didn’t know that these things are out there, I am truly flabbergasted….,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Operation Vanguard is calling for more support from government to enable it to become more efficient in its operation. It said getting more vehicles will enhance its work.
The deployment of the joint police and military task-force came as a major boost to government’s fight against illegal mining in the country, following news of its devastating effects on the country’s land and water resources.
Government placed a six-month ban on all forms of mining until further notice, but later extended the ban to January 2018, because the needed result has not been achieved.
Punishment for ‘galamseyers’ too weak – Operation Vanguard commander
Colonel William Agyapong, the outgoing Commander of Operation Vanguard, also expressed worry about the weight of punishment meted out to illegal miners after they have been arrested by the anti-galamsey task-force.
According to him, the sentences given by the judiciary to the suspects were not deterrent enough, and was a major disincentive to the fight against illegal mining in the country.