The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama says the investigations into some missing excavators seized by the Operation Vanguard as part of the clamp-down on illegal mining was triggered by 34 of them which could not be accounted for at Tema.
According to her, the number of missing investigators was not presently known as of now since the issue was still being investigated.
She has therefore advised against throwing figures about following public discussions some of which had said more than 300 excavators are missing.
She stated this in Parliament on Tuesday [February 18, 2020] when the matter was raised on the floor by Alhassan Suhuyini, the Member of Parliament for Tamale North.
Mr Suhuyini had called for an investigation into the missing excavators and a call on the government to financially account for the operation it initiated in 2017 against illegal mining, to which President Akufo-Addo pledged to put his presidency on the line.
Hajia Alima Mahama’s mention of the figure 34 as the number of missing excavators on record raised arguments on the floor of Parliament with the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, for example, stating that, he had heard the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining and the Minister of Environment, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng mention that over 300 excavators were missing.
But responding to the argument, Hajia Mahama explained that “this whole issue about missing excavators came out because of an audit that occurred, and they went to Tema, looked at the books, the station where some excavators had been placed and the books indicated that 34 excavators had been sent there but they were not there.”
“So that is when we raised the query [that] if the books indicate that 34 excavators are here, where are they?”
She said the Inter-Ministerial Committee Chairman then sent it for investigation. “So the proper thing to do was to get it investigated and that is why all this issue came about that there are missing excavators.”
Hajia Alima Mahama’s argument was that, as of now, the actual number of missing excavators are not known and that could be ascertained after the investigations and therefore advised against Members of Parliament throwing figures about on the floor.
“We are not saying that somebody stole them or whatever, we don’t know. The investigating report will then tell us where they’ve gone to and we will proceed from there. If it raises grounds for prosecution, then the prosecution will begin. So it depends on what the person is saying, I’m not saying there are only 34 excavators are missing. I’m only saying that the issue that triggered the investigation was when an audit was commissioned and the audit report indicated that the books in Tema indicated 34 excavators were sent there but on inspection, the number was not 34.”