Regional News of 2014-05-05

'Anti-galamsey' war failing due to China's $3b loan to Ghana - Sec. Chief

Diplomatic pressure from the Chinese government has held back government's efforts to stop the galamsey menace, according to Chairman of the National Security Committee on Lands and Natural Resources, Colonel Robert Nyankah.

According to Col. Nyankah, the gains made by the inter-ministerial taskforce against illegal mining seems to be eroding as many of those arrested - mostly Chinese - and deported in connection with illegal mining, are back in the country.

China is facilitating the release of $3 billion Master Agreement loan facility to the Government of Ghana to boost infrastructural development, including the construction of the eastern corridor road networks.

Col. Nyankah is convinced this development is hampering their efforts at sanitising the mining sector, as well as saving the environment from destruction as a result of illegal mining.

"In May and June last year [2013], we conducted this operation in the Ashanti, Eastern, Central and Western Regions. We made a lot of arrests with a lot of foreigners especially Chinese...there are other nationals who were also involved.

"We seized a lot of equipment, made a lot of gains but the operations got stalled. First of all, the Diplomatic pressure being brought on the government by China, you know that was the time we were looking for this [$3 billion] loan [and] I will tell you that, that thing played a role," Col. Robert Nyankah stated.

He said, as a result, the operation stopped for some time, and most of the Chinese deported are back in the country and the devastation is still going on.

He was addressing the media at Koforidua when the Regional Security Committee embarked on operations at some illegal mining sites in the Atiwa and the East Akyem Districts of the Eastern Region.

Nonetheless, the security chief indicated that the taskforce has intensified its operations and is making progress in the fight against illegal mining.

Frustrated by the indiscriminate mining in some parts of the country, Eastern Regional Minister, Julius Debrah, expressed worry over threats posed to the lives of pupils at the Kyebi School for the Deaf, which has been besieged by illegal miners.

Mr. Julius Debrah cautioned traditional authorities and politicians not to interfere in the operations of the Regional Security Committee in its determination to bring an end to the galamsey menace in the region.