Members of the Ghana National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) have expressed shock over the decision by government to burn excavators in its bid to clamp down on activities of illegal mining in the country.
The burning of excavators follows a government directive to the military to destroy all excavators found on water bodies after a dialogue of small-scale miners was held in Accra to find lasting solution to the illegal mining menace in the country.
Addressing a press conference at Ntafrewaso at Twifo Atti Morkwa District, the Communication Director of GNASSM, Abdul Razak Alhassan noted that, the directive by President Akufo Addo to the Ghana Armed Forces was to clear all logistics and persons involved in mining on Ghana’s water bodies but not at places where there is no water.
“We therefore want clarification on the President’s directives to the military. That is, did the President order the military to burn excavators on site or seize them. Examples of mining areas not on water bodies but excavators were burnt are Ntafrewaso, Asamoahkrom and Awisem all in the Twifo Praso District of the Central Region”, he said.
He expressed the Association’s total displeasure about what he described as the government U-turn on issues raised at the recently held Small Scale Mining dialogue at the Accra International Conference Centre, adding, they never discussed militarization in the fight or using brutal force in the fight against illegal mining.
“We are therefore giving President Akufo Addo an ultimatum of 14 days to address these concerns or expect three days intensive nationwide demonstration by GNASSM in all cities and towns”, he added.
25 excavators burnt in the home of owners
Twenty-five (25) excavators which were burnt on Monday May 10 by the anti-galamsey taskforce allegedly took place in the homes of the owners of these excavators.
The Council Chairman of GNASSM, Alhaji Usman Musah who briefed the media noted with regret the ‘Rambo-style’ approach used in storming the homes of the six members of the Association who were affected in the latest operation.
“They parked the machines in the house and the military came to the house to burn them. I can send you the videos right now. You want to see the videos right now within seconds I can send you the video. We don’t know what is happening. They don’t say anything, they don’t ask anything, they don’t ask for document they used explosives to enter the house. They just throw the explosives and then they enter”.
“We know that people working in the forest and also working in water bodies they are the people we are talking about but now here we are! People have the license working in small scale mining but at the end of the day the soldiers went into their homes and burnt their machines we don’t know what is happening. You have to ask the government what is his problem? ”.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the unit which carried out these operations in the Twifo Praso area proved futile.
Alhaji Musah is however urging government to liaise with the Minerals Commission to share the names of all licensed miners with the deployed military personnel to prevent them from harassing legally licensed miners.