President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says his decision to wage war on illegal mining, known as galamsey, is one he does not regret and is prepared to see through till the end.
He said he is fortified by the positive response from the many Ghanaians who believe that the move is right and until the desired results are achieved, there is no giving up.
The President noted that Ghana’s mineral wealth is an important attribute of the nation and mining has been ongoing since the 15th Century, but “until our time, that wealth has been exploited, but it did not prejudice the safety of our environment.”
“In our time, it has come to prejudice the safety of our environment. Our water bodies have been polluted, forests have been decimated because of this mad rush for gold. And I was told that doing something about it will cost me my political career, but well, that is a choice that we have to make always in life. Whether you are going to pander to the whims of the moment or do the things that you think right.
“I am prepared to do what I think right to safeguard our environment. So it is not a choice that frightens me at all,” the President said.
He was speaking in the Upper West Regional capital, Wa, during a meeting with religious leaders as part of his seven-day tour of the north.
The government has launched a strong fight against illegal mining in the country. The activity which has caused the destruction of farmlands and polluted many water bodies across the country, necessitated that action many believe is appropriate.
After several cautions failed, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources alarmed by the repeated reports of the destruction was forced to put in place a ban on small-scale mining in the country.
Earlier in August, a combined team of military and police personnel tasked with the aim of stamping out illegal mining activities in the country was inaugurated.
The deployment of the 400-strong personnel is part of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s heightened resolve to end the menace in the country after a ban on small-scale mining failed to deter the miners.
The joint military-police task force seems to be making a lot of progress. Residents in some areas where they are have testified.
The President is particularly excited by the progress made and has vowed on several occasions to keep the ‘fire burning’.
Fortified by the acknowledgment of the work his government is doing against galamsey by the Bishop of Wa, Richard Kuuia Bawobr, the President said if this generation does not stand up for the environment, water bodies, forests and lands, “very soon we will wake up and everything that was bequeathed to us would have been completely decimated.
“I think it is our duty that whatever was passed on to us, we also pass it on to our descendants. Our traditional rulers and people in the old days found a way by their practices and customs to protect the environment and were able then to have a Ghana where we had clean water, where we had forests but at the same time allowed us to exploit our natural resources.”
President Akufo-Addo said he has no doubt that the route he has chosen is the right one, and as the results of the efforts his government is making begins to show, he is certain that this is the way to go.
“Already, as a result of the interventions we have made, some of the rivers down south are beginning to regain their vitality and their colour. The Birim, Densu and the rivers in the Eastern Region are beginning to return to their original purity and pristine nature. So that fight is a fight I’m committed to and we are going to see it through to the end,” he said.