Live from the Woods: Fight against galamsey will fail if Lands Minister doesn’t stop talking

Min Johnpeteramewu Lands and Forestry Minister, John Peter Amewu

Tue, 4 Apr 2017 Source: Austin Brakopowers

By: Austin Brakopowers

If there’s one advice I will proffer to the Lands and Forestry Minister, John Peter Amewu, it is that he should stop talking and begin to act. Talk is akin to a gun with an empty chamber, however hard you pull the trigger it will not vomit out any bullet.

You don’t need to scream in the media to win the war against activities of illegal miners. You go to the field, strategise, and organise. You round perpetrators up and jail them.

Rooting out galamsey is not as cheap as standing on a campaign platform with a twisted mouth uttering unintelligible words to the electorate many of whom have their minds made up on who they are going to vote for.

Mr Minister, stop talking and act!

You will appreciate the enormity of the task ahead if you consider the kinds of people who are behind galamsey. It is a network made up of some senior politicians, security personnel and chiefs who are financing operations of the small scale illegal miners. I am convinced the fight will be an uphill one that will require actions.

These sponsors will not sit idle while they receive beating from the government. They will put up a spirited fight back through intense lobbying and bribe. They will buy whoever is cheap for grab.

Ghana has seen many talkers who ended their tenure not achieving much in the fight against the galamsey menace that has become a landmine. The previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government boasted of having a leader who is a communicator. Former President John Mahama talked and talked the more, but acted less. He became a talk-more-do-less President.

At least the repercussions of galamsey as seen through the scars that punctuate our water bodies and environment remind us of how much a talking nation we have become. We don’t need more talkers; rather we need men of action who are not given to too much talk.

When I visited my alma mater, Abuakwa State College, in 2015 I was surprised at what I saw in the school I had served as a Prep Prefect in 2004. The campus had been turned into a mine with pits sitting comfortably every few meters one treks. What perhaps got my attention was the way the Brim River which served as the major source of water for students when I was there had been polluted by the miners. I began to wonder how the illegal miners had sneaked into the school to conduct their activities if they were not supported by an opinion leader in Kyebi.

The Tano River which held part of the history of the country has dried up for the first time in 40 years, a consequence of galamsey. The people of Brong Ahafo Region have not only lost their major source of water, Ghana has lost part of its history.

It’s pathetic. When a nation begins to lose its vegetation cover and water bodies, you don’t need to be told it has signed onto a suicide pact. It is on a self-destruction mode, with less than three years to detonate. We should prepare to trek miles in search of water as was the practice of some years past.

The Ghana Water Company has shut down some of its water treatment plants across the country because of the muddied nature of the rivers. Officials have warned the country will be importing water from its neighbours if stringent measures are not put in place to save the remaining water bodies. We are on the precipice of losing our sanity.

Since his approval and subsequent swearing in as the Lands Minister, Mr Amewu hasn’t hidden his preparedness to end illegal mining. He wants to save the environment and water bodies that are fast being depleted and polluted by the use of toxic substance by the operators who are largely Ghanaians and Chinese.

While this is commendable, I think the rail against the illegal practice is enough. The fight ahead does not need to be fought in the media. It’s beyond that. We need to go to the field and round up whoever is caught mining. We need to arrest the Chinese and their Ghanaian counterparts who are destroying our environment and arraign them before the court. Their sponsors must not be spared. Let’s be ruthless in this fight because our lives depend on its success.

The Chinese and some Lebanese are behind some heinous crimes being committed against Ghanaians in the country. We don’t need to pamper any foreigner who is contributing to the destruction of our environment. This is the only place we can comfortably call our home, therefore, we need to protect it.

No Ghanaian will be allowed by the communist government to mine in Beijing without serving a jail term. It is not possible. However, our leaders have been myopic to the point that there is no use for them except to be used by these foreigners for pittance.

This explains why some Ghanaians were furious when Mr Amewu begged the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohong, when he met her over the illegal activities of her people.

The galamsey menace is perhaps the biggest test of the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government and his ability to end it will go a long way to seal his place in the annals of the country. He has indicated there is a Committee that’s drafting a national policy to fight the menace. We hope the document will be ready before June since we can’t accommodate another year of galamsey.

It’s important for Mr Amewu to know that we need the will and action to solve the challenges in the country including the nuisance activities of sellers on our major streets and these have to be demonstrated.

The writer Austin Brakopowers works as a journalist at Joy99.7FM and could be reached via Brakomen@outlook.com or www.brakopowers.com

Columnist: Austin Brakopowers
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