Business News of 2014-01-27

Galamsey operators invade Lake Bosomtwi

Ghana risks losing one of its treasured natural resources as illegal miners carry their nefarious activities to the banks of Lake Bosomtwe, the biggest natural lake in West Africa.

The development highlights wanton destruction of water bodies, farm land and forests, especially in six districts of the Ashanti Region. Regional Security Liaison Officer, Bimpong Marfo, says only intensified anti-galamsey operations can save the country from total destruction.

Armed galamsey operators now work in the night to outwit the regional Anti-Galamsey Taskforce which has been in operation since last year.

Over 100 foreigners and locals engaged in the illegal mining have so far been arrested. Hundreds of excavators, assorted machines and other equipment, including one known as ‘champhi’, designed by Chinese, have also been seized.

Amansie West and Central, Atwima Mponua, Bosome Freho Districts as well as Obuasi and Asante Akim South Municipalities are the most devastated by illegal mining.

“Six of our districts are so devastated; as for Amansie West, I don’t know how that district can recover. If you go to Amansie Central, it is the same situation there. If you go to Atwima Mponua area along the Offin River, it’s same. My worry is now that the thing has been carried over to Bosomtwe where the lake is”. Mr. Bimpong said.

Rivers Oda, Offin and Prah have all been heavily polluted. The social fabric of the people is not spared as security officials point to increasing rate of teenage pregnancy in these areas.

Now galamsey operators have turned their attention to gold deposits in Lake Bosomtwe, which prompted a recent meeting of Regional Security Council.

“That is what prompted the Regional Security Council to find a way of dealing with it because we have one of the major natural lakes that this nation and Africa have so if we don’t protect it and these illegal mining gets there as they have started”. Mr. Bimpong warned.

Mr. Bimpong says the anti-galamsey task force needs to be adequately resourced to be able to sustain the gains made so far. “You can see what is going to happen (to Lake Bosomtwe). We need to find the resources to combat it”.

A worrying trend of the galamsey menace is the use of sophisticated weapons by operators, in addition to widespread abuse of narcotics such as cocaine and marijuana.

Two months of undercover investigation by Nhyira News last year, revealed proliferation of arms across Ashanti and Western Regions, following the ejection of Chinese illegal miners.

The anti-galamsey task force has since seized 55 weapons, including 25 pump action guns, 24 single-barreled guns, six pistols and a quantity of ammunition. Mr. Bimpong says the situation poses a security threat.