Executive director for Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group, Elziabeth Vaah, has described the impact of illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey as one which is gradually eliminating people in affected areas.
According to her, the issue and impact of illegal mining is an over-flogged subject which has seen little result from the government. She indicated that although government in its statements has resolved to fighting the menace, there hasn’t been much success.
Madam Vaah stated that the discovery by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which found disturbing level of mercury concentration in Tano River, is one which will have a debilitating impact on the health of the people in the communities who rely on the river.
“… We are gradually eliminating these people but on a scale that we don’t realize it and I don’t know if it’s intentional or if it’s just the way things are. How can we be so helpless in our own country?”Elizabeth Vaah
Madam Vaah noted that the “saboteurs” who muddy the rivers make a return because there is no punishment. Citing Akonta Mining, she explained that instead of the government to deal with the mining firm for engaging in illegal mining, it has resorted to rewarding it with a huge concession in the same place where they practiced illegal mining.
“What is the difference now with what they are doing with the concession and what they were doing illegally? So, why would all the other small people bother when they know that it’s not going anywhere? There’s probably a line-up of people waiting for the gold to be drawn out of these rivers through whatever method so that they can buy it. So, how do you expect this to stop when all the incentives that must be there for it to thrive are going at fault? There’s not going to be any difference. I feel so sad… This is genocide we are watching happen at that level.”ElizabethVaah
Destruction of waterbodies in the country
Furthermore, Madam Vaah lamented that the rivers being destroyed as a result of galamsey run hundreds of miles between Pra and Offin, Ankobra and Tano and there are communities dotted along all these lines. She highlighted that there are equally hundreds people living all along such rivers that are being exposed to chemicals directly and indirectly.
“It’s not just one day of sending people to the gas chamber, this is a gradual process of eliminating people and I feel sorry for my people in those communities.”ElizabethVaah
Elaborating on government’s commitment in dealing with galamsey, she emphasized that the leadership in government is not fighting anything and has shown that they don’t care. She revealed that based on past incidents which remains unresolved, its telling of their lack of commitment to the fight against galamsey.
“We had excavators missing in Ellembele district, nothing has happened… Ecoconscious citizens and other groups are in court right now trying to force the government of Ghana with the violations that Chairman Wontumi’s [Akonta Mining] did… So, we are showing to ourselves and everybody that is looking on that we are not interested in pursuing any of this. The President continues to talk about evidence and this report by [Prof Frimpong], you had it for two years and nobody bothered to do anything about it. So, who are we fooling?”ElizabethVaah
The executive director for Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group explained that for those vested in helping fight the menace and really care about what is going on, they are all helplessly looking on because leadership has no desire to do anything it.