Hajia Alima Mahama
Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on Monday stated that Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) who fail to ensure the successful implementation of the roadmap on ending illegal mining, also known as ‘galamsey’ would be sacked.
She also cautioned those allegedly involved in ‘galamsey’ to desist from the practice with immediate effect, adding that if the allegations are proven against them they would be fired and punished according to the law.
Hajia Alima disclosed this while addressing the gathering at a retreat in Accra held to educate MMDCEs on government’s roadmap on lifting the ban on small-scale mining and to explain their roles to ensure its successful implementation and sustainability.
The retreat was also addressed by Akosua Frema Osei Opare, the Chief of Staff, who reiterated the President’s commitment to implementing the roadmap.
Hajia Alima said the government would mount nationwide surveillance in illegal small-scale mining areas to look out for MMDCEs who may be perpetuators.
She wondered why any MMDCE would engage in galamsey, explaining, “The report we are getting from the field is not good enough. 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 meeting the needs of the people from short to long-term, protecting the environment and helping to implement government’s policies 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 in the lives of people. You should feel good and positive about the fact that you are helping to clean up the polluted water in your locality.”
The Minister said that the government, upon realising the destruction caused to 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.”
The Chief of Staff explained that they have the responsibility to educate their people and ensure that all activities outlined in the roadmap are adhered to.
“You have to ensure the evacuation of all earthmoving mining equipment to designated areas, installation of tracking devices on these equipment, vetting and verification of artisanal and small-scale mining licences and community mining model.
Ms Osei-Opare advised them to take the activities seriously because they have 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.
The strict adherence to the collection of Tax Identification Numbers- both personal and Company/Entity TIN- would also increase the government’s tax base.
“I expect you to help stop this menace and not to participate in it 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.
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 is currently piloting an electronic system that would provide a live feed on their activities, adding that a test-run in the Dunkwa-on-Offin has been done and would be extended to Obuasi, Konongo, Tarkwa, Akyem Abuakwa Districts.
The government last month outlined the roadmap for lifting the ban on artisanal small-scale mining, which involves the reclaiming and re-afforestation of mined-out areas.
It also involves the restoration of affected water bodies, strict supervision of the processes of awarding mining licenses and associated permits, continued formalisation and regulation of the small-scale mining sector.