An officer of the Ghana Armed Forces has made a passionate appeal for the extension of the operating caveat of Operation Halt to cover the seizure and destruction of all gold mining equipment within two kilometers radius of rivers.
He cautions that the current mandate of removing and destroying mining equipment within 100 meters radius of rivers will not achieve the desired results.
A trending video of the armed officer and his colleagues in fatigues by the side of a heavily polluted river, has a Chinese, apparently under arrest shedding tears as he is queried over the propriety of his activity.
In the video, two large tubes connecting to pumping plants are submerged in the river and per the officer’s account, one tube supplies water to an illegal mining site about a kilometer away while the other returns dirty, wastewater from washing the gold into the river to further pollute it.
In his estimation, the fight against illegal mining and its attendant destruction of the nation’s river bodies will not succeed if the current mandate limiting the activities of soldiers deployed in the exercise remains at 100 meters, because the perpetrators have now resorted to operating the illegal mines at considerable distances away from the rivers, and yet continue to pollute the rivers.
“So you see it, this is the problem, these guys are well established with machines, plants. They have two plants, one supplying water to their site which is about a kilometer from here, then when they wash the gold, they now discharge the water through the second plant into the river. So one of the pipes is supplying their washing machine which is about a kilometer from here, and one is discharging water, the wastewater into the river, polluting the river. So this is the main problem, you see. The guys are operating beyond 100 meters from the river, yet their establishments are causing so much destruction to the river. So the caveat we are operating with, the 100 meters caveat is not feasible, it’s not feasible if we need to deal with this issue head-on.
“We have to review that caveat. We have to review it, the 100 meters, and give us freedom of action so that we can operate fully to achieve the success we all desire, other than that we will finish this operation and these guys will still be on the water and be destroying it, there will not be any change.
So if we need to get serious, we need to make an impact, a real impact on the ground. This thing, they should give us a minimum allowable operational distance of two kilometers from the river, anything within two kilometers astride the river we should destroy it. Even this one that we are seeing here is one kilometer from the river but yet they are the very people causing the mayhem, they are the very people destroying the river than even those with the smaller, smaller machines. We need to relook at this, very, very key, very important.”
It is not immediately clear exactly when the video was recorded or the location, and while Graphic Online is immediately unable to identify the officer, his passionate appeal comes in the wake of renewed threats by small scale miners to sue the government if it sustains Operation Halt, mandated to stop all mining activities within 100 meters radius of rivers.
President Akufo-Addo in April directed the Ghana Armed Forces to remove all persons and equipment engaged in mining activities on Ghana’s rivers, in a renewed effort to stop illegal gold mining or galamsey and to reclaim polluted rivers. The exercise took off in the Central and Western regions.