Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, the Okyenhene has spoken, in defense of government’s decision to burn mining equipment belonging to illegal miners, when he met the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources Cecilia Abena Dapaah and her entourage, at the Ofori Panin Fie in Kyebi in the Eastern Region as part of the minister's assessment tour of major river bodies and water treatment plants in the country.
Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin is of the view that, it is untenable for people to use unemployment as an excuse to engage in illegal mining to destroy the environment and therefore maintained that, there are many alternative livelihood programs by government such as the Planting for food and jobs program.
“The disciplined old cultures didn’t live by rule of law but lived by rule by nature. They were disciplined and respected nature therefore never destroyed water bodies. But this generation is bent on destroying the natural environment. When at all will galamsey be stopped? The excuse that people are engaging in illegal mining because there is no employment is untenable. Planting for Food and Jobs and other programs are some alternative livelihoods that the youth can take advantage of. It saddens me When I see excavators on Television being burnt but people are recalcitrant. If you leave it, they will return to site with it,“ he said.
This week, news reports went viral, as at least 20 excavators and many other mining equipment were set on fire by the government’s military task force to crack down on illegal mining in the Eastern Region, in this video widely shared since Facebook, where eight out of the excavators and one of the bulldozers were destroyed, is said to belong to the National Women’s Organizer of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kate Gyamfua.
Apparently, they had tried all things possible, to prevent this destroying of their newly bought mining equipment, with this letter to the minister to show, but from the video, the unfortunate happened and this has attracted some backlash by a section of Ghanaians, who believes that, the expensive machines should not be burnt but rather ceased.
However, few weeks ago, the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin had kicked against the Government decision of promoting community mining as a means of eliminating illegal mining activities popularly known as galamsey, as according to the Okyenhene, license has been issued to some individuals to mine in the communities without the consent of the chiefs, the allodial owners, destroying lands and water bodies which affect the pedigree of the community and the state as well.
Due to that, the Overlord of Abuakwa Traditional Council had categorically stated that, his area will not permit community mining and that necessary action will be taken against such activities.
The Okyenhene, a known Environmentalist, who had expressed his displeasure about the situation when the Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Acheampong paid a courtesy call on him at the Ofori Panin Fie, Kyebi on Sunday said “enough is enough. We will not allow the illegal mining called community mining to take place in our communities”.
Whereas the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, had announced earlier that, the community mining concept could provide the antidote to the wanton environmental degradation being perpetrated by illegal miners across the country, with the Minister explaining that, the operations of community mining were environmentally friendly and must be embraced by all stakeholders to create sustainable jobs for the youth without destroying the environment.
The minister added that, the Ministry would soon facilitate a national consultative dialogue to come out with a blueprint to regulate the sector with the promotion of community mining as the main strategy to phase out illegal small scale mining.
But the Okyenhene explaining his reasons empathically stated that “they come in to show us their licence from the Minerals Commission telling us that the government has given them authority to mine in our communities without consulting us.”
Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin angrily threatened that “As they are destroying our lands and water bodies, they blamed the chiefs for such activities. We won’t allow that thing to happen. No one will give a permit to mine on our land without seeking permission from the one you called Landlord," and added that, there are many pits left uncovered in the various communities which pose a threat to children.
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