General News of Thursday, 28 December 2017
President Nana Akufo-Addo has described as successful, the work of Operation Vanguard, the team tasked to enforce the government’s campaign against illegal mining activities in the country.
According to the President, although few challenges have been recorded, the operation has largely been worthwhile.
Operation Vanguard was launched by President Akufo-Addo in July 2017 after an intense media campaign, led by Citi FM put pressure on government to curb activities of small-scale illegal mining activities also known as galamsey as they were said to be polluting water bodies and the environment as a whole.
Speaking at the Commissioning of a Secretariat for the Inter-Ministerial team on Illegal Mining in Accra, President Akufo-Addo said government will not relent on its war against illegal mining. “Launching of operation vanguard on 21st July 2017, a force comprising officers and men form the military police service tasked to prevent further pollution of water bodies and land degradation. Operation Vanguard has so far been a huge success.”
He said the country is currently entering a new era of putting efforts in place to formalize the small-scale mining sector “so as to achieve sustainable mining with sound environmental practices.”
“In the weeks and months ahead, I expect to see optimum coordination among participating ministries and the district mining committees as well as close interaction with Operation Vanguard, small-scale miners and the general public. I expect the committee to receive regular reports from mining centres so that illegal activities can be dealt with immediately,” he added.
Ignore critics and work
President Akufo-Addo had earlier urged members of Operation Vanguard to remain focused despite criticisms of their operations.
Akufo-Addo gave the advice when he visited them at their base at Akyem Afosu in the Birim North District of the Eastern Region last week.
362 illegal miners arrested by Operation Vanguard
Operation Vanguard as of September 2017 had arrested 362 suspected illegal miners including some Chinese nationals, and had seized a number of mining equipment.
The equipment included over 1,500 ‘chang fa’ and water pumping machines.
Twenty-four (24) of those arrested have been convicted by the courts with some of them sentenced to fines ranging from GH¢1,080.00 to GH¢6,000.00, while others have been jailed – doing between four and 18 months.