Arrest illegal miners destroying River Okyi — Nkusukum Traditional Council to govt

  Wed, 14 Feb 2024
Social News Arrest illegal miners destroying River Okyi — Nkusukum Traditional Council to govt

Nana Okese Essandoh IX, the Paramount Chief of Nkusukum Traditional Area in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region, has called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of illegal miners destroying the Okyi River.

He said the river, instead of remaining colourless, had turned brownish and muddy, warning that: “If we do not stop it, posterity would judge us.”

The Paramount Chief was speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement on a scoping report on Ghana’s lithium exploration at Ewoyaa in the Central Region.

Arranged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the forum assembled traditional leaders and the residents to deliberate on the impact of the imminent lithium exploration at Ewoyaa.

Regretting the situation, the Paramount Chief said: “I’m alerting the police and the EPA on the fact that illegal mining is taking place in river Okyi as I speak now.”

“I have made similar complaints with the Central Regional House of Chiefs and I’m repeating it here that illegal mining is taking place in river Okyi with impunity.”

“This must be treated with the urgency it deserves by the right authorities to save my people from the obvious social, health, and economic dire ramifications,” the chief stated.

River Okyi is one of the main tributaries of the Pra River and the country’s most important gold and diamond-producing area.

“Illegal mining along the banks of the river has increased erosion and at times the soil in the mined area caved into the river, silting it,” he said.

The Paramount Chief said the use of mercury to extract gold had been an issue of public health concern to most residents living in galamsey-prone areas.

He referenced recent research that linked various health issues, including kidney failures, to prolonged exposure to mercury.

“Mitigating this problem necessitates a combination of environmental regulations, community education and healthcare measures to protect the well-being of the affected population. Let's advocate against this menace,” he said.

Mr Kofi Amoah, a vegetable farmer at Mankessim told the Ghana News Agency that illegal gold mining was on the rise due to its lucrativeness.

He said the unregulated mining had come with hard consequences on sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems.

“River Okyi used to be the main source of drinking water and irrigation, but we cannot use it again due to pollution. We are left with dugout wells and other streams that dry up during the dry season.”

“The polluted water sources affect irrigation systems and reduce the availability of clean water for agricultural activities.”

Madam Justina Adwoa Amoasi, a homeowner at Mankessim, lamented how River Okyi overflowed due to the shallowness of its banks as a result of illegal mining activities.

“When it rains for a few minutes, many homes in my area in Mankessim submerge due to flooding. The riverbed and banks are being eaten by galamseyers with impunity,” she said.

The residents, therefore, called on the security agencies to strictly monitor the course of the river across the communities and arrest the perpetrators to deter others.