When, in early 2017, the government announced the ban on small-scale mining, it received a lot of support and led to the downscaling of the activities of the miners whose activities had led to the destruction of our forests, water bodies and the environment generally.
A lot has since been achieved after the formation of Operation Vanguard which has received support from the Media Coalition Against Illegal Mining and the media as a whole.
We note the pockets of lobbyists who are working for the lifting of the ban and urge the government not to relent in its effort until we completely clean our water bodies and replant our vegetation to guarantee our future.
In doing this, the government needs the support of all and sundry. It is for this reason that we applaud the strong backing given by the Council of State to the government’s decision to hold on to the ban on small-scale and illegal mining.
As elders of the land whose duty is to offer advice to the President and the state machinery concerning things of mutual interest and national concern, the voice of the members of the council is instructive in backing the government to impose and maintain the ban all the fillip it needs.
Certainly, we all owe it to ourselves and generations unborn to bring sanity to the way we exploit our natural resources, so that we do not end up cutting our lives short.
We must all lend a hand to stop the destruction of not only our water bodies but also the huge tracts of land meant for farming and crops that bring us revenue and food.
The Daily Graphic also lauds the government’s stance to lift the ban only when it sees improvement in our water sources.
For this to happen, we need to put in place appropriate policies and steps to make any form of trade or vocation that destroys the environment a criminal offence.
While we are happy for the creation of Operation Vanguard to flush out all forms of mining activities that put all of us at risk, it is no secret that some people, with the support of people in authority, still mine illegally under the cover of darkness.
While calling for even stiffer punishment for people involved in illegal mining, we are of the view that the time has come for the government to put down stringent rules to govern those involved in genuine small-scale mining, as they contribute to the chaos.
We agree with a member of the Council of State, Mr Sam Okudzeto, that if we do not take the necessary steps now, “the country will, in some years to come, experience not just water shortage but its cocoa farms and timber may also be wiped out”.
Cocoa and timber are both major exports that bring foreign exchange to the country, not to talk about non-traditional crops that are raking in some revenue for the country. Destroying our land, therefore, will only spell doom for us as a country.
Bodies such as the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) must be resourced to fulfil their mandate of educating and sensitising the public to its civic duties and responsibilities.
On the argument that the ban is destroying the livelihoods of those who were involved in mining activities, we believe that if sustainable livelihoods are created for small-scale miners, as well as the youth who were hitherto engaged in illegal mining, the issues of ‘galamsey’, the pollution of our water bodies and the destruction of the environment will become things of the past.
Let us, therefore, adopt a holistic and multi-pronged approach to kill ‘galamsey’ and all forms of irresponsible mining before they kill us.