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27.05.2008 Disaster

Illegal miners invade Fumbisi… Four killed underground

By William N. Jalulah, Sandema - Ghanaian Chronicle
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THE UPSURGE of illegal small-scale gold mining, at Fumbisi and Kadema, in the Builsa district, has led to the death of four people. The four died when the cliff of the pit in which they mining, caved in on Tuesday May 20th.

Mr. Thomas Alonsi, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Builsa, who disclosed this at the People's Assembly at Sandema, the district capital, at the weekend, said the practice had been going on in the “Oversea Area” of the West Mamprusi District, which shares a boundary with the Builsa District, in the Fumbisi area.

The DCE said during the early parts of 2007, some of these 'galamsey' miners, operating in the “Oversea Area,” found traces of gold in a part of the district, around Fumbisi. This discovery quickly led to a massive movement of miners into Fumbisi, with many young men and women from the town and its environs, moving in to participate in the illegal economic activity.

Mr. Alonsi said within a short period, many mining shafts, popularly called holes, had being created and owned by individuals. They are sunk both vertically and laterally, with the hope of finding gold bearing rocks, for further processing.

He expressed worry over the environmental degradation associated with the sinking of these holes, dotted all over the place, describing it as unimaginable.

The DCE observed that the small-scale mining activities were creating tension among interested factions at Fumbisi, which could degenerate into violent conflicts.
He noted that the District Security Committee set up a Task Force, comprising representatives from the police, National Fire Service and district assembly, which successfully flushed out the miners from the Fumbisi site. This cost the assembly over GH¢110.

Mr. Alonsi warned the opinion leaders who, he alleged, were conniving and colluding with these illegal miners, to destroy the environment, to desist from the practice, or have themselves to blame.

He appealed to the Regional Security Council, to help the District Security Committee, to stem the tide of destruction to lives and the environment, which has been set in motion by the activities of these 'galamsey' operators.

Eye witness accounts have it that before the victims entered the pit, they were warned that it was about to rain, but they would not pay heed. Six of them entered, and when the rain started falling, two managed to come out, before the cliffs caved in killing the remaining four.

As at last Friday, three bodies had being retrieved from the pit, and given to their families for burial. But the fourth body was still buried, making it extremely difficult for the local people to bring it out.

Mr. Alhassan Samari, Upper East Regional Minister, who was the chairman at the People's Assembly, presently going on in the region, expressed sadness at the unfortunate development, and gave the assurance that the Regional Coordinating Council would take pragmatic measures to curb it.

The DCE had earlier announced that the assembly received a total of GH¢2, 216,557.31 from the District Assemblies Common Fund, between 2001 and 2007.
Over the same period, the expenditure incurred against the assembly's receipt of the Common Fund, stood as; GH¢373,358.77, on education, GH¢58,952.3, health, GH¢1,970,205.85 on Local Government and GH¢418,818.69 on Counterpart Fund.

He disclosed that the Local Government took the chunk of the common fund, with 59.8%, followed by the education sector, with 16.6%, and health, 3.0%
On development projects, Mr. Alonsi said a total of 220 projects were carried out. These included; construction/rehabilitation of dams, provision of health infrastructure such clinics, CHPS, wards and staff bungalows, construction of classroom blocks, science laboratories, dormitories and supply of furniture, construction of boreholes, hand-dug wells, toilets and equipment supply, provision of office and residential accommodations for staff, road infrastructure, extension of electricity to communities and provision streetlights among others.

The total capital outlay expended on these projects stood at ¢128, 463, 605, 665.47 in the old currency.

So far, Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly, Bongo, Builsa and Kassena-Nankana Districts have held their People's Assembly.

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