General News of Sunday, 27 May 2018
Operation Vanguard Taskforce, the anti-illegal mining taskforce set up by government has impounded a total of one hundred and One (101) varied weapons and 2,347 ammunition from galamsey sites since its operation in July 2017.
Most of these weapons were illegally acquired by the miners. Squadron Leader Robison Omane-Agyei, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Operation Vanguard Taskforce revealed this while Speaking at a stakeholders forum at Akyem Osino in the Eastern region organized by Media Coalition Against Galamsey.
According to him, the task force has seized a total of 548 excavators out of which 215 have been confiscated and handed over to Various district Assemblies for use by Court and others, demobilized.
Also, 1,447 Water pumping machines have been impounded. Additionally, the Operation Vanguard Taskforce has impounded 79 Vehicles, 71 motorbikes and 5271 Shanfai machines from the galamsey mining sites nationwide.
ARREST & DISCOURAGING PROSECUTION
According to Squadron Leader Omane Agyei, over 10% of the 1,233 Illegal miners arrested out of 1033 operations carried out by the Taskforce have been convicted.
He explained further that out of the 172 Chinese nationals arrested for engaging in illegal mining, only 22 have been jailed. The Chinese constitute 97% of foreign nationals arrested by the task force since its operation in July 2017.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Operation Vanguard taskforce noted the situation is worrying and demoralizing, therefore, appealing to the Prosecutorial bodies to fast-track prosecution of accused illegal miners while appealing to Judges to apply maximum punishment stipulated in the Minerals and Mining Act to serve as deterrent.
The Squadron Leader stated that apart from the low rate of prosecution, Operation Vanguard Taskforce is faced with challenges such us Inadequate vehicles, lack of low birds to cart seized excavators and unavailability of drones to monitor illegal miners who sneak to mine.
MEDIA COALITION AGAINST GALAMSEY
Nii Laryea Sowah Kenteman – a Member the Media Coalition Against Galamsey told Starr news, the Coalition is committed to sustaining the fight until the Environment is secured.
According to him, the devastation caused to the environment by the illegal miners will take not less than 50years for the environment to return to its natural state.
He said the Coalition has petitioned major stakeholders to remedy challenges debilitating against Operation Vanguard Taskforce with a call on the Foreign Affairs Ministry to repatriate Chinese nationals arrested over illegal mining. – Kojo Ansah