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Galamsey claims 24,000 acres of Amenasi Forest Reserve.

24,000 acres square of the Amenasi Forest Reserve in the Upper Denkyire North District in the Central Region has severely been ruined by illegal mining (galamsey) operations in the area.

The 24,000 acres square of land is lying waste as a result of seven years of an illegal mining operation embarked upon by some Chinese nationals.

The inter-ministerial taskforce, in an effort to save the environment from further destruction, intervened with the apprehension of 13 Chinese illegal miners and one local. The illegal miners were arrested alongside with 24 excavators last week.

The Head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Francis Asibi Abu, told journalists after a tour of the site, overwhelmed with ditches and pits, that there were other faulty excavators to be removed from the place, but the committee was looking for resources to move them.

According to Mr Asibi Abu, illegal mining has severely affected the forest, especially with the destruction of trees, wildlife, landscape, as well as the soil quality, therefore, the citizens should to join the fight against the menace.

'This is the effort that government is putting in place to restore our lost nature, and I simply want to inform Ghanaians to look back and see whether we can describe this as people's businesses being destroyed or natural resources being destroyed. Going forward, what kind of implication is it going to have on the economy,' he lamented.

When asked why it took them so long to respond to the issues, Mr Asibi Abu said he cannot provide answers to that, because he does not work with the Minerals Commission or the Forestry Commission, since they have oversight responsibility.

However, he added, the inter-Ministerial Committee is now the first point of contact of the Office of the President on illegal mining issues, and is charged with the duty to expose the rot in the mining sector that have been concealed so many times.

He said people in a very deceptive manner operate illegal mining on the blind side of the government, and often, locals fail most at time to inform authorities about these illegal activities, adding that the indigenes in this case had been very helpful.

Mr Asibi Abu disclosed that the mining company that was arrested for the illegality was CandG Alaska, indicating that the C represents Canada and G Ghana, but said: 'I don't have knowledge about their authenticity.'

According to sources CandG Alaska was only given a license to conduct prospective mining, but ended up engaging the service of Chinese.

He was also asked whether it was the same site that the late Major Maxwell Adam Mahama was guarding as a Dispatch Commander before he met his untimely death, but Mr Asibi responded otherwise, and quickly added that there were no military personnel found on the site as at the time of the taskforce operation.

He could not also answer whether the miners had any weapons on them, since conducting a search was not part of their mandate.

The Head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee reiterated that the remaining excavators at the site have technical faults, hence cannot be moved, adding some of the engines are not in them, while the rest have their tracks also broken.

Mr Asibi Abu urged Ghanaians to understand that the duty assigned the inter-ministerial taskforce is a solution-finding task, therefore, must corporate with them to volunteer information.

Nevertheless, before journalists were hauled to the site, structures occupied by these illegal miners had been invaded and destroyed by the taskforce, while the locals were also busily retrieving wood and roofing sheets from the ruins.

Pix: Mr Asibi Abu, Head of inter-ministerial committee granting an interview to the media.

Pix: An ariel view of the destroyed land

Pix: Some locals salvaging wood and roofing sheets from the rubble
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Publication:Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra, Ghana)
Date:Feb 21, 2019
Words:702
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