Outspoken Ghanaian economist, Professor Stephen Adei, has served notice he will embark on a “one man aluta” to compel the next government to, as a matter of urgency, halt the growing phenomenon of illegal mining, popularly referred to as galamsey.
He has fixed January 7, 2017, the day Ghana’s next president and parliament will take over the running of the country, to begin the push for an end to the problem that is fast depleting the environment.
“Whoever wins, if they are not going to do anything about galamsey and the level of environmental degradation, you’ll see Stephen Adei on a one-man aluta,” he told a gathering in Kumasi.
He said the about 17 thousand illegal miners in the country are causing havoc with impunity “because there are ‘big’ men behind them” who have invested in big machinery for the operations.
There are also fears of an imminent depletion of forest and water resources as the miners employ all kinds of equipment to uproot trees and dig the ground deep in search of gold.
Large tracts of farmlands have been destroyed in parts of the country by illegal miners. In the Western region, the Upper Wassaw Forest Reserve has hundreds of illegal miners destroy about 12 hectares of the forest reserve; trees have been razed indiscriminately, water bodies destroyed and deep pits left uncovered.
Two water treatment plants in the Ashanti region are currently producing below capacity as illegal miners encroachment on lands within the catchment of the Barekese and Owabi dams.
Cocoa industry experts have also warned the spate of illegal mining activities could cutback Ghana’s cocoa production targets if immediate steps are not taken to address the menace.
Cocoa farmers at Keniago and other communities in the Amansie West District of Ashanti are already giving up on farming as illegal mining operations take over fertile lands in the area.
The situation, Prof. Adei wants halted immediately before illegal miners hold the country hostage.
“We have to make life uncomfortable for whoever is responsible… because the level of environmental degradation in Ghana is so much that we risk poisoning the land, animals and human beings,” he stated.
Environmental sustainability has been identified among best practices to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).