The Ghana army, supported by the navy and air force, has, so far, cleared a total of 230 platforms and 365 changfans in illegal mining sites covering a total of 267 kilometres along and on the Pra and Offin rivers and their tributaries, as part of their activities to flush out illegal small-scale miners from some major river bodies and forest reserves in the Ashanti, Eastern, Western and Western North regions.

The title of the statement was “Flushing out of illegal miners on major river bodies – Ghana Armed Forces achieves greater success”.

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) said the areas so far cleared include Beposo upstream, Daboase, Sekyere Krobo, Sekyere Nsuta, Mamposo, Twifo Praso, Awisam up to Asaman (the confluence of River Pra and Offin).

The clearing team also resumed operations on river Offin and is currently at Abora within the Upper Denkyira East Municipality.

Areas along river Offin that have been cleared include Asma Camp, Denkyira Foso, Badoa No.1 and 2, Kyekyewere, Buabenso, Akyempim and Dunkwa.

GAF, in a statement, noted that a total of 110 platforms and 185 Changfan machines have been destroyed on river Offin, covering a distance of approximately 114 kilometres.

The army has advised all persons engaged in illegal mining, especially along the country’s river bodies and forest reserves, to desist from these criminal activities or risk being severely dealt with according to the laws of the nation.

“Additionally, we wish to send a clear warning to those who have shifted their activities to other parts of the country where the footprints of Operation Halt is yet to touch that their days are numbered”, the statement added.

Premature celebration

In response to the statement by GAF, the Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group, formerly Galamsey Action Group disclosed that, the surgical actions taken to rid the nation's major rivers of the destructive activities of illegal miners have helped in putting the perpetrators on notice, and given the said rivers a little breather from the relentless devastation, “For that we are grateful”, the statement said.

“We wish to reiterate, however, that any celebration or congratulations at this stage would be rather premature. This is because those rivers continue to see ongoing devastation. No! Rivers Ankobra, Birim, Offin, Tano, Pra and others have in no way been spared the ongoing devastation. In fact, it continues at various points along those rivers”, Elizabeth Allua Vaah of the Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group said this in a statement copied to ghenvironment.org.

The current state of River Pra

The statement said, as recently as August 18, 2021, it took a contingent sent by the Western Regional Minister, and on a tip off from their group, to dislodge several Chanfangs that had settled on a portion of the Ankobra, adding even then, there were no arrests and only a handful of abandoned Chanfangs were destroyed.

The statement said, the group has videos and pictures of Tano, Ankobra, Birim, Pra and Offin looking as bad as they were when these operations being celebrated by the GAF started.

“Once again, while we appreciate the good work done by the men and women of the GAF, we are of the view that only a sustained, smart monitoring of our rivers, and genuine and decisive action by the Government, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Interior, the regional and district security councils and our traditional councils would result in the success that we all seek. Until then, any self-congratulatory messages by any groups would be deceptive at best”, the statement added.