There is implicit hypocrisy in the people fighting the menace of galamsey. The cyclical discussion on attempts to end galamsey and the continuous operation of activities related to it do not suggest the menace is being fought. Galamsey should be fought with the same attitudes that need to be exhibited in fighting corruption. The fight against galamsey needs similar strategies and measures adopted in the fight against corruption.
Government officials, Chiefs and the populace in mining districts or areas where galamsey is undertaken are the important stakeholders in this fight. These groups possess the solution to achieve the national agenda of the state or the government. Currently, these individuals have crumbled goals with regard to the galamsey fight. The government through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has measures to fight the menace but the solution needs a bottom-up approach.
The Chiefs have much control of most of the parcels of land used for galamsey activities. They allow individuals to have access and power to mine illegally. These Chiefs do not realise the damage being done to the environment including the water bodies in their areas. They hold special powers to preventing or modernizing this devastating illegal mining activity.
It is practically impossible to operate illegal mining activities in a particular district or area if the Chiefs in the area do not give permission for such activities. The Chiefs in galamsey districts or areas need to admit their irresponsibility in shirking the natural duty imposed on them to protect natural resources.
Greed and corruption may be the principal factors that influence the Chiefs to engage in such illegal activities. Otherwise, legally mandated mining activities generate revenue in royalties and some employment opportunities in mining districts. So, what is making these Chiefs substitute royalties with “galamsey monies”? Greed and corruption. The Chiefs want to control much of the revenue from such resources.
The unemployed in Ghana find a source of livelihood in illegal mining activities. These people have the backing of some of the political parties, especially during national election years. In Ghana, national issues are usually politicized to gain political votes.
Therefore, the political parties need to engage the youth in a discussion that determines how their problems will be solved and how dire the menace of galamsey is. The importance of the Chiefs and the people who engage in the activities should not be ignored. Their engagement in the processes and measures adopted by the government to fight galamsey is principal in arrival at the solution to the problem.
There can be recurring change in the policies of government to fight galamsey, the solution cannot be identified in them. The solution to successfully fight galamsey lies in the fortitude of the Chiefs, who own the parcels of land used for galamsey activities, to support government agencies to eliminate the menace. Then, government officials need to cleanse themselves of any associations with galamsey. Government officials and appointees need to indicate leadership by practically exhibiting their commitment to end the menace.
The attitudes of Chiefs towards the fight against galamsey need to change immediately with the same for the individuals who engage in illegal mining activities. If all the Chiefs in mining districts make a strong vow to end the menace or modernize it to save the water bodies from being damaged, it is possible.
Consequently, the Chiefs who own the parcels of land that are used for illegal mining activities must be at the vanguard of a revolution to end the menace of galamsey. It is the best approach to eliminate this disturbing mining activity in Ghana.
The fight should be a determined desire of the Chiefs to save the environment in order to maximise the use of natural resources for the current generation and others yet unborn. The Chiefs should be the fighters of the menace if the state would ever win it. State agencies should be monitors of the activities of the Chiefs to end the menace.
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor, Advocate, and Religion Enthusiast.