Religious leaders in the country have asked the Government to ban all illegal small-scale mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ until a comprehensive responsible mining strategy is instituted.
They said small-scale mining both legal and illegal had destroyed the biodiversity-plants, animal species and water bodies, which needed urgent restoration.
Most Reverend Philip Naameh, Archbishop of Tamale, briefing the media on Monday on observations after a field trip to some ‘galamsey’ sites, described ‘galamsey’ as an environmental “coup d’état” ever unleashed upon the country.
“We have visited a number of affected communities and have seen the level of devastation that the practice has caused our natural resources,” he said and asked government to swiftly arrest and prosecute all those involved without fear or favour.
“Those who desire to be rich at the expense of the future of our country should face the full rigors of the law,” he stressed.
Most Reverend Naameh said religious leaders were ready to facilitate a dialogue with all political parties, mining technocrats, the media, traditional leaders and all stakeholders to commit to a non- partisan National Strategy to sustainably deal with the issue.
Reading the Group’s position paper, Mr Emmanuel Baba Mahama, the President of the Full Gospel Men’s Business Fellowship, said the Group would give District Assemblies an ultimatum to ensure that water bodies in their respective areas were restored by June 30, 2030.
He said the religious leaders were ready to mobilise their legal team to prosecute offenders, including traditional rulrs, politicians and government appointees.
Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu , the Spokesperson for the National Chief Imam, said the survival of the people was under threat due to the level of destruction, which included cutting down of cash crops, degrading of lands with chemicals such as mercury, chlorine, and cyanide.
“Our eco-system is being destroyed irreversibly; our soils are contaminated with poisonous chemicals, which are very difficult to clean,” he said.
Sheikh Shaibu urged all and sundry, especially politicians and the people involved in the activities to reflect on the national pledge, which encouraged all citizens to be faithful and loyal to Ghana in all their dealings.
Dr George Manful, a Retired Diplomate on Environment and Climate Change of United Nations Environment Programme, said it would take about 500 years for the restoration of the top soils.
“You go to clear vegetation in search of small ounce of gold in just few hours and it will take equivalent of 20 generation of Ghanaians to get only three inch of soil back. This must stop,” he said.
Nana Dwomoh Sarpong, Founder of Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, said the justification that people engaged in illegal mining due to high unemployment rate was not justified.
“Will you support the claim that hungry people should steal to survive? Being jobless does not mean one should destroy the environment that supports our existence,” he said.
He said the advancement in science and technology should be used to make life easy and protect nature and not to destroy it, noting that it would take 70 years for the chemicals that had leaked into the underground water to clear.
Nana Sarpong alleged that the problem was lingering due to the involvement of high political actors from major political parties.
“This small scale-mining is a life and dead issue. The problem is the politicians who fail to adhere to the advice of technical people…Technocrats are afraid to talk because they do not want to lose their jobs,” he said.
The religious leaders are from the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Office of the National Chief Imam
and Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Ghana, National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches.
The leaders, last week, made a field trip to some ‘galamsey’ sites in the Eastern region.
The tour was to enable them to assess the level of devastation caused by ‘galamsey’ activities in the communities to inform decision.
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