The Forestry Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission says it will forcefully implement the ban on mining in the country’s forest reserves as directed, to protect the environment. It has therefore, cautioned persons who under the cover of darkness continue to flaunt the directive that they would be made to pay the price when apprehended.
Executive Director of the FSD, Hugh Brown, in an interview with the Daily Graphic said despite the ban, some daring people continued to carry out their illegal activities and the commission was ready to fight this forcefully.
“The battle to protect the forest reserves goes on unabated. We will deploy different strategies to win all the wars in this battle,” Mr Brown said. The mining equipment was seized from the Bunusu portion of the Oda River Forest Reserve, and the Koboro-Odaho portions of the Apamprama Forest Reserves, both in the Bekwai Forest District of the Ashanti Region, following an operation by staff of the Bekwai Forest District of the Ashanti Region of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the commission, with support from the rapid response team of the commission.
“A battle involves many wars and there is an approach for each war. For now, one of the approaches against illegal mining is to protect the reserves, and prevent any action in those reserves. “The other is to attack their access and weaken the illegal miners economically by seizing their equipment and denying them the ability to perpetuate their illegal acts.
Destruction of equipment
Justifying the burning of the excavators and other equipment, Mr Brown explained that the Commission was deploying several strategies and it was therefore, impossible for the illegal miners to read their moves.
“A war involves many battles and there is an approach for each battle. For now, one of the approaches against illegal mining is to protect the reserves, and prevent any action in those reserves,” Mr Brown said.
The latest destruction exercise took place in the Bunusu portion of the Oda River Forest Reserve, and the Koboro-Odaho portions of the Apamprama Forest Reserves, both in the Bekwai Forest District of the Ashanti Region. where 12 excavators, 12 heavy duty pumping machines and wooden make-shift housing structures were all burnt on site.
“The other is to attack their access and weaken the illegal miners economically by seizing their equipment and denying them the ability to perpetrate their illegal acts.
“Each of the excavators cost about GH/c700,000 to about GHc1.3 million and if the illegal miners continue to lose their equipment through seizure and burning, it will weaken them economically and so we are deploying all the tactics to end this menace,” Mr Brown stressed.
The FSD Executive Director also said while it was understandable that the youth would want to work to make ends meet, illegal mining was not the option as it was putting the nation in danger, hence the need to find alternative means of livelihood.
“We have teamed up with the National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) to get some of these people engaged in illegal mining to find alternative employments. Hopefully, this will work and they will also get to understand the harm their galamsey activities are causing to themselves, the affected communities and the nation as a whole,” he indicated.
Also, Mr Brown said the target was to identify the financiers of the illegal mining activities, arrest them and bring them to face the law.
He, however, said it was frustrating that because of the rule of law, illegal miners who were arrested and sent to court were given bail and another effort was spent to get them to face the law.
“It is frustrating that when people are arrested, the law allows them to be bailed and taken through the process until a finality is brought on the issue. That takes time and, perhaps, encourages others to continue perpetrating their illegal mining activities, particularly, in the forest reserves,” he added.