Illegal miners in Eastern region of Ghana have threatened to diversify into other criminal activities including armed robbery should government terminates illegal small scale mining ,locally known as ‘galamsey ‘ in the country .
The illegal small scale miners argue that,they were compelled to engage in the risky but lucrative mining work due to lack of jobs in the country therefore government of Ghana must provide jobs for them before intended plan to terminate their activities nationwide .
According to the illegal miners, they have guns hence it will be easy to venture into armed robbery for survival .” if government want to stop us from mining ,then he should provide us with jobs that we can depend on to take care of our families ,but if we are denied working and yet government fails to give us jobs ,then some of us already have guns ,we will go into armed robbery for survival “. Kelvin an illegal miner said.
This comment was reechoed by four ‘galamseyers’ at different mining sites visited in Kibi, Asamama, and Kwarbeng .
The illegal galamsey operators say, since their involvement in the business, they have made substantial incomes taking care of their families and children in school hence government cannot just take their livelihood without alternate opportunities.
The Government on Tuesday issued three weeks ultimatum to illegal miners to fold up before clamped down by nationwide security operation.However,the illegal miners want government to tread cautiously .
The destruction of the natural environment in Ghana by illegal miners has almost reached lethal threshold which requires urgent and aggressive action by government.
Apart from degradation of arable lands,destruction of farms and other economic and health effects,illegal miming in Ghana has resulted in heavy metal pollution of major river bodies in Ghana compelling most water treatment plants to shut down due to extremely high turbidity levels of raw water from the affected rivers.
Researchers have warned,Ghana may import water from 2030 should the current rate of water pollution continue unabated .
Successive governments have failed to stop the operation of illegal miners in the country due to lack of Political will to withstand the influential personalities directly and indirectly involved in the illegal operations.
The weakness in enforcement of the law, has created opportunities for foreigners to including Chinese to invade the country with sophisticated mining equipments by the help of their Ghanaian counterparts ,to mine in directly in rivers.
Even though some Chinese have been arrested and deported ,several others are hiding in the bushes with their Ghanaian accomplices ,illegally mining .
The new government led by President Nana Akufo Addo,has vowed to end the menace to safeguard the environment for the future.
Many civil societies, the media, Environmentalists ,Ghana Agricultural Workers Union,and majority of Ghanaians mostly farmers have intensified calls for urgent government actions to end the menace .