By Albert Ansah, GNA
Accra, Sept. 10, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Monday cautioned that Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) who fail to ensure the successful implementation of the road map on ending illegal mining (Galamsey)would be fired.
She also cautioned those who were alleged to be involved in any way in the Galamsey process to stop with immediate effect, saying if the allegations were proven they would be fired and punished according to the law.
Hajia Alima was addressing a retreat, in Accra, at a retreat held to educate the MMDCEs on the Government’s roadmap for lifting the ban on illegal small scale mining; and to explain their roles towards ensuring the successful and implementation and sustainability.
The retreat was also addressed by Madam Akosua Frema Osei Opare, the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, who emphasised the President’s commitment to the implementation of the road map and the responsibility the MMDCEs had as his representatives on the ground to make it work.
Hajia Alima said the Government was going to mount national security surveillance on illegal small-scale mining areas to look out for MMDCEs who may be perpetuators.
She repeatedly questioned why any MMDCE would engaged galamsey, explaining, “The report we are getting from the field is not good enough. I want to assure you, do not think that you can do something wrong and hide. Whatever you do, the long arm of the law will catch up with you.
“Indeed, the Government and the chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) are both hurt and sad about the situation.
“Therefore, if you know you are engaged in galamsey, tell yourself now that it is finished, and you will not do it again”.
She advised them to focus on their core mandate of responding to the needs of the people from short to long-term, protecting the environment and helping to implement government activities at the local level.
“We did not tell people to vote for us to come and do business as usual,” she stated. “We need to make an impact on the lives of people. You should feel good and positive about the fact that you have helped to ensure to clean-up the polluted water in your locality at the end of your mandate.”
The Minister reminded them that the Government, on realising the destruction caused on water bodies and biodiversity, placed a ban on small-scale mining and followed it up with additional measures.
“So, you cannot think about the short-term gains and compromise the long-term gains”.
For her part, the Chief of Staff explained that it was their responsibility to educate their peoples and ensure that all activities outlined in the roadmap were adhered to.
They had to ensure the evacuation of all earthmoving mining equipment to designated areas, the installation of tracking devices on these equipment, the vetting and verification of artisanal and small-scale mining licences, and community mining model.
Madam Opare advised them to take these activities serious because it had the potential to increase their Internally Generated Funds, increase government tax base, create jobs and encourage responsible mining.
“For instance, the Community mining model will reduce galamsey and encourage responsible mining, “she explained.
“I expect you to help stop this illegal mining menace and not to participate in any form whatsoever. I am here to encourage you that failure is not an option. If you do not want to be part of this important assignment, we will not also allow you to derail our efforts,” she said.
Mr. John Alexis Pwamang, the Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a presentation, said the EPA would soon commence a web-base registration system that would help track all licences and miners.
He said the Agency was currently piloting an electronic system that would provide a live feed on activities, adding that, a test-run in the Dunkwa-on-Offin has been done and it would be extended to Obuasi, Konongo, Tarkwa, Akyem Abuakwa districts.
The Government last month outlined the roadmap towards lifting the artisanal small-scale mining and this includes the reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas.
It also involves the restoration of impacted water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits, continued formalisation and regulation of the small scale mining sector.