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Oh Ghana! Please Don’t Play With Fire!

Feature Article Oh Ghana! Please Don’t Play With Fire!
WED, 22 NOV 2023 LISTEN

A joint press statement issued by the Media Coalition Against Galamsey and OccupyGhana calls urgently for “legislation to prohibit mining in all forest reserves and biodiversity areas in Ghana.”

The organisations expressed deep concern over “reports that mining rights have been granted, or recognised, over the Kakum Forest.”

While acknowledging that “the Minerals Commission’s rejection of the mining application in Kakum National Park,” the press release points out that there is a “need for clarity regarding the type of application” and “whether the company involved possesses permits from [other] relevant authorities, such as the Forestry Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

The organisations urged Parliament to “swiftly pass an Act that prohibits the granting of any mining or drilling permit, licence, lease, or associated activities, in significant biodiversity areas and forest reserves.” To achieve this end, the press release suggests that “the Environmental Protection (Mining in Forest Reserves) Regulations (LI 2462), which grants the President the power to approve mining activities in globally significant biodiversity areas, should be “revoked”.

This is because the existence of that regulation “is believed to have encouraged the current mining application. To ensure that the government cannot evade the proposed law by simply revoking the status of current forest reserves, the organisations recommend that decisions regarding the cessation of forest reserves should involve the advice of the Forestry Commission and the Lands Commission. Additionally, approval from Parliament, public hearings, and engagement with local chiefs and communities should be mandatory.”

Such steps would “require amending the Forest Act, 1927 (Cap 157) and removing the President’s power to revoke forest reserve status through an Executive Instrument”, the organisations stated.”

Furthermore, the press release demands “the explicit revocation of the Forests (Cessation of Forest Reserve) Instrument (EI 144 of 2022), which [was] previously revoked the forest reserve status of the Achimota Forest.”

It is to be hoped that the Government will regard with the n

utmost seriousness, the observations made by the two organisations. Obviously, they have studied the

legal position regarding our forest reserves very seriously and come to the conclusion that even at this late stage, legislative action may be able to save the situation.

Their largely optimistic attitude goes against the belief by some environmental organisations that central governments in this country do not take the matter of protecting our inherited natural resources seriously enough. How else, it is asked, could the Government put in charge of our Forest Reserves, a man (“Sir John” Afryie) who did not scruple to raid the Forest Reserves for his personal gain? And how else could a film crew of JoyNews be assaulted on a galamsey site by criminals employed by a high ruling pastry official, without even an apology being rendered to the film crew, let alone compensation being paid to the crew for equipment damaged during the confrontation?

This writer has, in the past, had occasion to abide OccupyGhana (in particular) for opposing the use of harsh measures – such as the seizure and burning of excavators and bulldozers found polluting rivers and streams. OccupyGhana insisted that the machines must first be confiscated by the courts before they could be torched.

But, of course, that was rather naive on the part of OccupyGhana, since a few enquiries could have established for the organisation that the seized equipment usually belonged to powerful people in government and in business. Such groups do not fear the law, for all they need to do is to make a few telephone calls and – hey presto! – they would get their seized equipment released. It is not difficult to surmise that if the burning of excavators and bulldozers by Government Task Forces had continued, our rivers and streams would NOT have been polluted to the extent they are now. So, OccupyGhana did shoot itself in the foot. But we all live to learn, don’t we?

The current situation is, by the way, as bad as could be expected. (See the Joy News programme, Poisoned for `Gold on Youtube).According To the film, several scientists are getting increasingly worried over the high number of malformed foetuses being delivered by women in galamsey areas. I was amazed to find that illiterate women interviewed in the film had concluded that the so-called “community mining” scheme being touted by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources was nothing but galamsey, given an official sheen or camouflage.

I don’t know how often this warning has to be issued, but Planet Earth itself is under SERIOUS threat from global warming. NASA (in the US) has confirmed that from readings sent to Earth by a Rover craft sent to Mars, that planet could have harboured water millions of years ago, but that climate change on Mars rendered it the total desert it is today.

Planet Earth’s water may be sucked dry by the same processes that took place on Mars millions of years ago. And then, humans will realise that lack of water means the extinction of life – including that of humans – from the Universe. Are we in Ghana going to hasten our own end, by destroying our water resources, before climate change does it for us?

Please let us think very hard and end this galamsey nonsense. We have been placed on this part of the Planet, to enjoy life as much as possible. We have luxuriant plant life; excellent examples of flora and fauna. And some of the best drinking water anywhere in the world.

And yet, we want to condemn our own grandchildren to death by thirst?

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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