General News Fri, 17 Jan 2020
Government is expected to deploy about 60 soldiers to prevent the Oda Forest Reserve from further degradation resulting from alleged illegal gold mining activities by some supposed Chinese nationals.Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, made this known to journalists at a 'galamsey' site inside the Oda Forest Reserve, on Thursday, January 16, 2020.
Some two Chinese Illegal miners were reportedly arrested on January 7, 2020, at the site by some Forest Guards with the Forestry Commission.
The arrests were made after an initial near standoff between the Forest Guards and some purported military officers who were protecting the Chinese.
They started their illegal mining activities about two weeks ago and have created about four sites.
Upon arrival at the site on Thursday, the furious Minister ordered the burning of mining equipment belonging to the illegal miners.
Some diesel tankers at the site were also burnt.
The Forest Guards who carried out the arrests reported seizing a total of six excavators from the 'galamseyers'.
The Oda Forest Reserve in the Bekwai District of the Ashanti Region covers some 60,000 hectares of land.
Ghana’s current mining following a Cabinet directive makes mining in forest reserves an illegal act which is punishable to a prison term of minimum 15 years or maximum 25 years.
At the time Cabinet issued the directive, the Minister recounted that there were about 46 groups mining in forest.
The Minister vowed that drastic and pragmatic measures would be taken to curb illegal mining, especially in forest reserves.
District Manager of Forestry Commission, Amanshie West District, Rexford Twum Damoah, said the two Chinese who were arrested were sent to the Jakobu Police Station.
He said they were later granted bail.
But the Minister was unhappy with the granting of bail to the illegal miners as he noted in accordance with the law, they were supposed to be arraigned before court for prosecution.
He lamented that “people have come back into the forest and doing illegal activities.”
He, therefore, encouraged those desirous of mining to go through the proper process.