A vast stretch of arable land, covering many kilometres, in the Gomoa and Awutu-Efutu Senya districts in the Central Region, has been destroyed through the activities of illegal sand winners in the area.
Angry landowners and officials of the two assemblies say they feel helpless in the face of the deadly weapons with which the sand winners usually encroach on the land.
Snippets of information gathered by this writer indicated that the illegal sand winners have taken advantage of the numerous chieftaincy disputes bedeviling the area to deprive the citizens of their livelihood as they remove the vegetative cover of the land making it useless for any economic farming.
In response to appeals by the District Security Committees (DISEC) of the two assemblies for assistance to nip the diabolic activities of the sand winners in the bud, a team of police personnel from the Agona Divisional Police Command, led by Chief Superintendent Christian Tetteh Yohuno, carried out a special operation at Gomoa Fetteh last Wednesday during which six tipper truck drivers, who had loaded their vehicles with sand, were arrested.
They have been granted police inquiry bail pending further investigations into the matter and their prosecution.
In the course of the arrest, the contractors fled but the captured drivers identified them to the police and promised to lead them to their houses at Kasoa for them to be apprehended, since they employed them to do the illegal job.
Mr Yohuno told the Daily Graphic that the operation would not be a nine days' wonder, stressing that the police would intensify their activities until the place was safe for farming and other economic ventures.
When the District Chief Executives (DCEs) for the affected districts, Mr Abbam Quaye for Awutu-Effutu-Senya and Ms Joyce Aidoo for Gomoa, were contacted on the issue on phone, they expressed concern about the problem.
They stressed that even though the illegal miners had not obtained any permission from the district assemblies and the Minerals Commission, they were briskly carrying out their activities with impunity.
The DCEs stated that the activities of the illegal miners had also scared some foreign investors who had expressed interest to develop the tourism potential of the area to create employment avenues for the youth.
They commended Chief Supt Yohuno and his team of police personnel for their timely intervention and urged them to sustain the tempo.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Ms Esther Obeng-Dapaah, on the issue, she said she was not aware of the illegal sand winning with its devastating effects on the two districts.
She, however, gave the assurance that she would investigate the matter and take the necessary action to stop the activities of the illegal sand winners.