Ghana goes red today as the media advocacy to end illegal mining (galamsey) switches its activities to another dimension. The Media Coalition Against Galamsey, OccupyGhana and other partners declared the day a “National Red Friday” to rally Ghanaians to demonstrate their rage and anger at illicit mining that has already taken a toll on the environment and push harder for a total end to the menace.
The Managing Director of the New Times Corporation, Ms Carol Annang, and Mr Ace Anan Ankomah, a leading member of OccupyGhana, both lead advocates of the #StopGalamsey campaign, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that Ghana was at the crossroads and that pressure must be intensified on the government to act decisively to end galamsey without any further delay.
Since the launch of its advocacy campaign against illegal mining on April 5, this year, the coalition has mounted a relentless campaign that has influenced the government’s decisions on the menace, with the decisions yielding some positive results.
Nonetheless, the coalition believes there is more to be done, for which reason all Ghanaians are being urged to go out in red today to demonstrate their will power against the forces behind galamsey operations.
“I hope many people will comply with our call to see Ghana red on Friday,” Mr Ankomah said in an interview.
He said the Red Friday needed to be felt both physically and on social media.
While admitting that some measure of progress had been made in the advocacy programme, the legal practitioner said a lot more remained to be tackled.
After the expiry of its three-week ultimatum to illegal miners to vacate their operational areas, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said 545 excavators had been moved from the sites to open grounds in mining communities.
In addition to that, 1,148 out of the 2,300 dredging equipment were moved from the galamsey sites to the main grounds.
Areas where the equipment was deposited include Akim Oda, Asankragwa, Assin Fosu, Bibiani, Dunkwa-on-Offin, Konongo and Tarkwa.
Looking at the vast swathes of the countryside affected by galamsey, many people believe the equipment turned in so far is a tip of the iceberg.
“Yes, progress has been made, but it is not enough,” Mr Ankomah stated.
Explaining, he posited that for now the question about how long it would take to completely wipe out galamsey from Ghana was hanging.
He said the government had not come out with a clear policy to stop illegal mining, adding: “We need the government to come clear with an action plan on how to stop it.”
He indicated that OccupyGhana had been on the ground to witness the devastation caused water bodies and vegetative cover by galamsey operators.
Threat to national security
Ms Annang emphasised the importance of the Red Friday, saying: “We need to continue to press home the fact that galamsey is a threat to our national security.”
“Red signifies danger and we’ll continue, as media people, to put pressure on the government to act appropriately,” she added.
She admonished Ghanaians not to sit down for some few Ghanaians and some Chinese to destroy the nation.
“It behoves us to lead the change to hold the government accountable in that respect,” she said.
She emphasised that the health and environmental implications of galamsey were enormously terrifying.
Ms Annang was of the belief that there was the need to test the water that people drank, including sachet water, to ensure that the water was safe.
That, she said, was because of the way many of the country’s rivers had been polluted by illegal miners, adding: “This is not child’s play.”
Following the devastating effects of galamsey on the environment, media organisations in the country, with the support of other interested groups such as the Christian Council of Ghana, launched the Media Coalition Against Galamsey to advocate a complete cessation of illegal mining in the country.
The government declared that it was throwing its full weight behind the coalition.
At the launch of the coalition, the Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) and lead advocate, Mr Ken Ashigbey, said: “The fight must be sustained until we can put a cup in the Birim, Tano, Ankobra and Densu to drink again.”
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has not kept quiet over the matter, pledging that he will do everything within his power to ensure that galamsey becomes a thing of the past.
The President, while speaking in Kwahu during the Easter, zoomed in on Chinese engaged in the illegal activity in the country, saying the fight against galamsey was not to witch-hunt them.
“We all know the laws of Ghana have no sympathy for nationality. The law affects everybody, including Chinese. It does not give permits to visitors or anybody to engage in illegal mining. Whoever is caught will be made to face the ful rigours of the law,” he admonished.