Paramount Chief of Talensi Traditional Area, Tong-Rana Kubilsong Nalebegtang, has blamed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other state extractive regulatory bodies in the Upper East Region for the lawless small-scale mining activities in his traditional area.
The Tongo Rana who addressed a meeting by the Media Coalition Against Galamsey through his spokesperson, the Chief of Baare Naab, Nyaakora Mantii, said the inability of the state mining licencing regulatory bodies to do due diligence to the issuance of licencing to mining companies had created lawless mining practices who were eventually degrading the environment and undermining the livelihoods of the people.
Key members of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey are in the region to begin a two-day working visit to ascertain the extent of damage illegal mining had caused to the environment.
The chief observed that foreigners had invaded the traditional area and hiding behind the laws and some heartless citizens to lawlessly degrade the environment with impunity without any recourse to the traditional authorities who are the custodians of the land.
He said the issuance of licences by the Minerals Commission and permits by the EPA and the District Assembly to companies from Accra without due consideration to owners of the land, their livelihoods, and their children’s future was absolutely dehumanising and infringed on the rights, dignity, freedom, and pride of the people as Ghanaians and human beings.
The paramount chief noted that the artificial boundaries created by the mere licencing of mining companies had churned into the hitherto united communities to uncontrolled land disputing communities where lawlessness, disrespect for traditional authorities and unnecessary disputes were the order of the day.
According to Tongo Rana, mining activities had excessively polluted water bodies in the area by the use of poisonous chemicals including cyanide, mercury and other toxic mining materials as well as constant cutting of economic trees such as share trees.
He noted that since the inception of the Small-Scale Mining Law in 2006 and the opening up of the area to small-scale mining activities about 100 people had died in the process.
The chief, therefore, appealed to government to take a second look at the licencing content and processes to allow for large scale mining in the area to prevent the incessant destruction of the environment.
He therefore urged government to recognise and involve traditional authorities in the processes of licencing of mining companies to effectively identity the true owners and design proper leasing plan to these large scale mining companies to conserve, preserve, and protect the environment for generations to inherit.
Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Rockson Ayine Bukari, conceded that the media as fourth estate of the realm had the capacity and responsibility to attack the illegal mining phenomenon to restore the environment and water bodies for future generations.
He encouraged the coalition to rekindle the role it had assumed on the environment to bring the necessary change by the finest strategy adopted to name and shame people, institutions and groups that indulged in degrading the environment for their selfish interests.
He said government had sourced about US$72 million to help reclaim the degraded lands as a result of illegal mining activities that had polluted most of the country’s water bodies.
The minister indicated that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo was determined to protect the environment for generations to inherit and therefore would ensure that the fight against Galamsey was achieved even though it was one of the most difficult tasks confronting the government.
President of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Affail Monney, who is also a member of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, noted that galamsey was an essential threat to human survival in Ghana and indicated that the coalition appreciated the enormous task ahead, saying once it started it must be fought to the end.
He reiterated that galamsey posed the biggest challenge to the very survival of Ghanaians and prided education as prime objective of the coalition, noting that the tenacity to tackle the fight against illegal mining appeared positive because “it is a collective fight and winnable and shall be fought to the end.”
Minerals & Mining Matters
…with Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU