The Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Africa-Network (ASMAN) says governmentâs inability or failure to fulfill a pledge to reclaim and cover all abandoned illegal mining pits across the country, is largely to blame for the numerous deaths occurringin the pits.
According to them since the major clamp down on illegal mining by the inter-ministerial task force about a year ago, more than 100 people including 3 childrenhave reportedly died in abandoned âgalamseyâ pits across the country, and this ASMAN attributes partly to governmentâs failure to honoring the promise of reclaiming these pits.
Most of the pits, were reportedly dug by illegal foreign miners who invaded the countryâs mining concessions and were left uncovered after government through the inter-ministerial task force repatriated most of them forcefully to their respective countries of origin.
In a statement issued and signed by the director of Policy and Research, ASMAN wondered what has become of the announcement by the President, John Dramani Mahama in March 2014 duringthe commissioning of a watertreatment plant for the people of Kyebi. The President announced that government was seeking financial supportand equipment from the World Bank and the Chinese government respectively to reclaim all abandoned and illegal mining pits across the country. Several months after the announcement however, ASMAN says nothing concrete has been done by government in respectof the pledge.
Prior to the Presidentâs announcement, the immediate past Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Alhaji Inusah Fuseini had in July 2013, announced that the task force was to begin a reclamation process to reclaim all lands degraded by illegal miners in respective communities, but added that they are yet to have any proof of the exercise, having taken place.
Mr. Akuoko further explained that, even more unfortunate is the fact that a presidential directive to all MMDAâs in affected communities to reclaim âgalamseyâ pits was not implemented as a result of the lack of resource capacity on the part of the various assemblies.
âThe Ejisu Juaben district assembly is the only known District Assembly to have reclaimed about 5 abandoned Pits in August 2013â, he stated
ASMAN noted that the lack of Commitment and failure or inability of government to reclaim these pits is largely accountable for the deaths,explaining that the abandoned pits attract unemployed youth in the host communities who are bent onmaking a living. Sadly, most of these adventurous youth end up losing their lives in the process, he said.
Aside these initiatives the director of Research & Policy of ASMAN said they are also aware that huge sums of levies have been collected by the various Regional Security Councils (REGSECâs) from owners of ceased equipment and vehicles for the same purpose of reclaiming illegal mine pits, yet there hasnât been any action in that regard.
Mr. Akuoko therefore appealed to government to show practical commitment and reclaim all abandoned pits across the country to safeguard human lives and discourage the menace of galamsey. He added that a major project to afforest orre-vegetate the reclaimed lands must be initiated immediately to restore the green nature of those lands and make them more useful and environmentally friendly. Such a project according to ASMAN will also provide a huge job opportunity for the numerous unemployed youth in the respective mining communities.