The Media Coalition Against Galamsey and its partners say the “appreciable response” to the National Red Friday campaign demonstrate the seriousness of Ghanaians to the fight against galamsey.
Yesterday, April 21, the Coalition and its partners took the #StopGamlamsey campaign a notch higher by rallying Ghanaians to be in red to demonstrate their anger at illegal mining and to get the government to act decisively to end galamsey once and for all by the end of this year.
Some of the leaders of the Coalition who spoke to the Daily Graphic yesterday said although they could not get the entire nation to go red, the response was appreciable.
The Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Ken Ashigbey, said: “I think that it’s been good, but it could have been better seeing the whole of Ghana red.”
According to him, apart from people coming out in red, some of the pictures he saw on social media attested to the fact that the fight against the menace was catching on with the people.
”I have seen that in Ada, for example, the people have gone on a galamsey march. They are talking of galamsey in the Songhor Lagoon. In Kumasi, the entire Graphic team went red. That is the place where galamsey is happening,” Mr Ashigbey, who is a leading advocate of the campaign and convenor of the Coalition, told the Daily Graphic.
He was also very impressed with the participation of the staff of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on Red Friday.
“And for me, the plus is that I saw the staff of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources wearing their red anti-galamsey shirts and carrying placards on the streets. That is positive. If you have the minister who is responsible actually taking the lead in what the media is doing and also doing what he is supposed to do as a minister, then it is positive,” Mr Ashigbey stated.
He said he also used the day to speak on some radio stations across the country.
“Generally you find the media pushing this; we did not have a long time to plan it, but the response of Ghanians is good. At least it demonstrates to all of us that people are serious about the campaign,” he said.
He mentioned some activities planned by the Coalition to push its agenda forward.
On April 27, the Coalition, in conjunction with the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), will organise an event to bring to the fore the solutions to galamsey from the engineering perspective.
And on May 4, a critical meeting between the media and stakeholders, including the Water Research Institute, will be held to discuss a research undertaken by the institute on the linkages between illegal mining and the level of contaminants in water.
“We are hoping that at this meeting, they will actually draw the linkages so that as media we would take it up and be able to educate the people. We also plan to hold a governance dialogue on May 31 where we will bring various bodies to talk on solutions,” he said.
Once galamsey is not an Accra issue, the Graphic MD said the Coalition would be moving to the galamsey-ravaged areas of the country soon to hold town hall meetings, with the first two meetings slated for Kyebi in the Eastern Region, and Wassa Akropong in the Western Region.
Even before those meetings are held, Mr Ashigbey has called on the head of the Ghana Immigration Service to find out what visas and work permits were issued to foreigners especially Chinese engaged in galamsey.
Good signs about minister
Mr Ashigbey indicated that the coalition was beginning to see some good signs from the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, mentioning as an example how the minister took on the Minerals Commission, his determination to move into enforcement and a five-year plan to restore sanity to the environment and water bodies.
“But we will demand details of the five-year plan, who is doing what and what is to be done,” he added.
He said apart from the one million signatures being collected to send a petition to the President, the Chief Justice and the Speaker of Parliament on the need to end galamsey, the coalition was also going to have another petition that would be taken to major stakeholders to ask for “specific things” and to demand their commitment to the fight.
For his part, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, who also spoke to the Daily Graphic, said the Council, a partner to the coalition, was impressed with how people responded to the Red Friday.
He commended the media and all others who had identified themselves with the campaign.
“This is one issue that we should see as a national issue and not partisan,” he said.
“Some media houses are raising their voices in the campaign, which is very encouraging,” he stressed.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong advised those in the illegal business not to see what was going on as an attack on their persons.
“It is an issue to save our environment. This is an issue that cannot wait,” he said.
He gave an assurance that religious organisations would organise themselves to sustain the campaign.