Pupils in some gold-rich mining villages and towns in Wassa Amenfi East District of the Western Region have abandoned school and now engaged in illegal gold mining activities known in local parlance as galamsey, Today investigations have revealed.
Aside from this phenomenon, Today gathered that residents in the farming communities of the district were living in panic and fear over what they alleged to be spiritual killings of innocent persons by some illegal gold miners for purification of their mining activities.
A large number of children, aged between six and ten, in an interview with Today lamented that due to economic hardships at home they are compelled to abandon their classrooms for gold mining to either make a living or make a few Ghana cedis to support their parents.
The few children who are in school also work in illegal gold mining concessions after school to earn money to sponsor their own education.
The children who do not wear any protective gear are exposed to all manner of dangers body injuries, especially that of the eyes.
Some of the parents, Today interviewed, said they have no choice but to go to work in the illegal gold mining-pits with their wards, because they add up to the manpower numbers needed for their operation.
Speaking to some journalists at a recent visit to Wassa-Akropong, the capital town of Wasa Amenfi East District, scores of opinion leaders said the effects of galamsey has made “our school-going children drop out of school because of money.”
According to them, many children of school going age have abandoned the classrooms, adding that the children are now into full-scale illegal mining activities, in view of the cash benefits that come with these activities, despite the associated risks.
They lamented that the enrolment figures in most basic schools in the district observed were sharply declining as pupils had put on hold their plans to pursue formal education to chase ‘quick money.’
They revealed that women were actively involved in the mining of the precious minerals, contrary to assertions that galamsey is operated by men.
They disclosed that several hectares of arable lands were being destroyed through the activities of illegal mining, making farmers in the area unwilling to engage in farming activities.
Galamsey, which has assumed an alarming proportion in a number of communities, Today gathered, was generally threatening food production and water security of the people in the district.
They blamed the increasing spate of galamsey activities on the presence of the larger gold illegal mining companies.
They disclosed that the presence of these illegal gold companies had not brought any meaningful development to the people in the area.
“We are yet to see what corporate social venture they have embarked on to help the people within their operational zone,” they lamented.
They noted that the idea of acquiring money within a simple means has been the motivation behind the children engaging in the illegal mining activities in the mining communities.
According to them, most of the young people in such communities do not value the significance of education; hence, choosing galamsey over education.
However, the warning issued by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. John Peter Amewu in Daily Graphic on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 with the headline “Ultimatum to illegal miner…Stop galamsey in three weeks or face law” reflected that indeed galamsey has become the biggest factor to the destruction of water bodies, forest reserves and cocoa plantation in this country.