The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources-designate, Mr Mireku Duker, has reportedly told Okay FM, an Accra-based radio station, that the government intends to set up River Guards to patrol our water bodies in the illegal mining areas. This, he argued, will be the permanent solution to the pollution of the water bodies by illegal miners.
Though no concrete decision, including time lines, has been taken for the implementation of this laudable initiative, The Chronicle commends the Ministry for, in the first place, conceiving the idea of forming this unit to fight illegal mining, especially in our rivers. Ghanaians were held spellbound when the TV stations started showing recently the level of pollution of our water bodies.
Though the Chinese have gained the notoriety of destroying our rivers and creeks in the name of mining, it appears they are not the only people causing these massive destructions to our environment. Indeed, it has now emerged that more Ghanaians are also involved in the alluvial mining business.
A video that has gone viral on social media shows how soldiers patrolling water bodies in the Western Region came face-to-face with a group of young Ghanaians who had installed chanfan machines on River Ankobrah and were busily doing galamsey (illegal mining).
Upon seeing the security men, they all jumped into the river and swam away from the scene. Though the security men could have shot them, they did not do that, but instead, set fire to the chanfan machines and destroyed them. The Chronicle commends them for acting professionally by refusing the temptation to shoot the miners. Though what they were doing was illegal, it should not, in our view, merit the death penalty.
However, the decision by these boys to mine in the river, despite all the warnings and the deployment of military personnel, which was given wider publicity, tells a story that if the government had not taken the bold steps to stop them, no amount of pleadings would have forced them to stop the pollution of the rivers. This is the reason why we are commending the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry for taking the steps to permanently deal with the issue.
Looking at the high unemployment situation in the country, the River Guards are, no doubt, going to create employment for the youth, who are the very people destroying the rivers and streams. But, in our view, since this is an avenue to create employment for these youths, there is no need to insist on paper qualification before one is employed as a river guard. Hundreds and thousands of these youth are engaged in galamsey because they do not have the qualifications to secure better paying jobs.
To, therefore, insist that all River Guards should have even a minimum of Senior High School certificate will defeat the purpose of fighting illegal mining. Another suggestion The Chronicle wishes to give the Ministry is that rivers in the mining areas must be segmented with five or ten guards put in charge of each of these segments. These guards must then be held responsible, including possible jail terms, when segments polluted by illegal miners are detected.
If this is not done, these guards will soon turn their employment into another money making venture, where they would be collecting money from the illegal miners and allowing them to work during odd hours. The Ministry should not lose sight of the fact that they are dealing with a human institution where inducement cannot be ruled out. However, if the guard(s) get to know that any pollution that will occur in his/her area, he or she would be held responsible, the person would think twice before allowing him/herself to be influenced with money. Since water, they say, is life, every Ghanaian has the responsibility in ensuring that this natural resource is well protected.Read Full Story