THE MINISTER for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor, has charged Regional Ministers as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) from mining endemic areas to lead the fight against illegal mining operations in their various jurisdictions.
According to the minister, the fight can only be won if local leaders rally behind central government, adding that the Regional and District Security Councils, headed by the Regional Ministers and the MMDCEs, are responsible for law enforcement in their various jurisdictions.
He said despite the numerous challenges, government has resolved that it will continue the fight to bring sanity to the small-scale mining industry.
Mr. Jinapor was speaking at Datano in the Amansie South District of the Ashanti Region, where he led a team from the Ministries of Information as well as the Lands and Natural Resources to visit the Operation Halt II team in the area. The purpose of the visit was to encourage the military and assure them of the President and government’s support for their operations.
The minister expressed satisfaction with the work done by the military, led by the General Officer Commanding the Central Command, Brigadier General Joseph Aphour.
He said that the military has been able to clear the site of illegal miners, demolished their infrastructure, and brought their operations to a halt, adding that the team arrested some illegal miners and seized excavators and other mining equipment, which have been handed over to the Ghana Police Service.
The minister said the operation is one of many to come, which are all aimed at exposing the complexities involved in the illegal mining business. He queried how the activities of these illegal miners could elude all the security apparatus in the district, the traditional and local authorities, and mine inspectors in charge of the area.
“All of you can see the level of devastation, it should baffle all of us as citizens, policy makers and as stakeholders in this fight, how an operation like this in the heart of the forest and in the faraway areas of our country can go on without notice by police, the chiefs, local political leadership and even the inspectorate division of the Minerals Commission here, and these are questions I, as minister, intend to seek answers to,” the minister said.
Brigadier General Joseph Aphour, who led the team, said six excavators were seized, while three were destroyed.
He thanked the minister for the visit and the assurances, adding that he was optimistic that with the support of government and the citizens, they can come to grips with the matter.
BY Prince Fiifi Yorke