Residents of Tarkwa and its environs have raised red flags over the destruction of lands and water bodies through the activities of illegal miners linked to bigwigs within the government.
They say the act which is also known as galamsey is being led by some prominent persons in the Akufo-Addo administration who have taken over lands which were legally given to individuals to mine for gold or manganese within the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality prior to the NPP government assuming power in 2017.
The anger of some youth in the area came to light when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, Mr John Mahama visited the area as part of his tour of the Western Region on Tuesday.
Addressing a durbar at Tarkwa, some young men and women were heard chanting songs indicating that they will vote against the Nana Akufu-Addo government for taking over jobs of the indigenes in the mining sector.
“Akufo-Addo has collapsed the mining work,” the crowd chanted as the former president addressed the crowd while the NDC launched its 2020 campaign in the constituency.
Anger In Town
Speaking to Power FM News shortly after the durbar, some miners who said they were excavator operators said they lost their jobs when the NPP administration took over in 2017 shortly after the government announced a ban on illegal mining and small-scale mining in the country to preserve the environment.
“We knew the ban was to save the water bodies and reduce turbidity but a year after, we realized some persons had been engaged to mine in the Nsuta, Aboso and Huniso areas. See the lands are being destroyed by heavy equipment not belonging to the mining companies here,” Abass, a disgruntled miner said.
One Kumi Okyere also indicated that concession they had acquired had been handed to some NPP executives in the Western Region, alleging that the Secretary of the Inter Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Charles Bissue and their MP, Mireku Duker, as masterminding the sharing of lands in the area for small-scale mining and neglecting persons who had the licences to operate in that sector.
He acknowledged the launch of a community mining scheme introduced by the government last year but hastened that it had been taken over by NPP “big men” who recruit party cronies to work.
“The NPP men in this area have taken advantage of the community mining scheme to destroy land and the chiefs know about this and can’t spealk up. If you see Bonsa river, you’ll feel sorry,” he added and expressed anger over the development.
The Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality has a total land area of about 905.2 square km, but according to some lecturers at the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa, more than a quarter of the land size has heavy earth-moving machines plowing the land for gold.
“If the canker continues like that, we will be heading to dangerous times because the mining which we are told is under control is not regulated,” a lecturer of UMAT who granted Power FM an interview on condition of anonymity noted and said the government appointees were not helping matters in the area.
He said, with the rate of contamination of the river, he wonders how much it will cost the government to supply clean water to the residents of Sekondi-Takoradi and surrounding towns and villages.
Speaking on the floor of parliament, the Majority Leader said, more needs to be done to ensure illegal mining is stopped in these areas.
“Mr Speaker, if we have to treat the polluted Pra river and Offin river, and purge it of all these chemicals that the galamseyers are using to pollute the river, I am wondering at what cost we are going to do this?” he said in a Ghanaweb report.
He made these comments during the debate on the approval of a total amount of €80.3 million loans to finance the Sekondi-Takoradi Water Supply Rehabilitation and Expansion Project on the floor of Parliament.
The loans are Oeke-backed agreement amounting to €70,733,432 and commercial loan amounting to €10,500,000 between Ghana represented by Ministry of Finance and Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft.
NDC’s Approach of Hope
At a durbar at Tarkwa, the NDC leader urged small scale miners in the Western region to to vote out president Akufo-Addo in the upcoming elections for depriving them of their livelihoods.
He said the president in the run up to the 2016 elections promised to snaitize the mining sector and regulate their businesses to save the environment in mining areas but has pushed them out of job and replaced them with party faithfuls when voted into power.
“Today we are here and witnessing what is happening in this area. The NPP government has collapsed small scale mining that feeds you here and subjected you to hardship and hunger,” Mr Mahama said while explaining that the NPP has not been fair to legitimate small scale miners who are not aligned to the ruling NPP.
“He [President Akufo-Addo] has not only collapsed your businesses, he has given your jobs to party cronies, his DCEs and party executives to mine in areas that you people should be getting your source of livelihoods,” the former president added.
To him, President Akufo-Addo did not promise the people such discriminattion hence when they go to the polls on December 7, they should kick the NPP government out and pave way for the next NDC government which will create avenues in the mining sector for qualified people to be returned back to their lands to work.
“When you bring us to power, we have a policy that will allow you to get back your excavators that were seized under the guise of tackling illegal mining (galamsey) under this government. We willensure you get back your jobs and mine in a responsible way that will not negatively affect the water bodies and arable lands,” Mr Mahama assured in Akan.