The state of poverty in the country and our attitudes have forced many to engage in all manner of illegal activities.
One such activity has to do with the illegal sand winning involving many residents along the coastal areas of our country. The act is gradually but steadily endangering the lives of the people residing along the beaches and even those residing many miles away.
In the coastal areas of Accra, Cape Coast, Keta and Sekondi, tonnes of sand are mined on a daily basis.
This theft of beach sand is a direct cause of erosion along many shorelines. It is very damaging to the beach fauna and flora, ruinous to beach aesthetics, and frequently causes environmental damage to other coastal ecosystems such as wetlands.
Another major impact of beach sand mining is the loss of protection from storm surges associated with tropical cyclones and tsunamis. Some communities affected by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean had higher storm surges probably due to beach sand mining which resulted in fatalities. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell that a beach has been mined.
Sand extraction becomes difficult to recognise as the beach readjusts to a new profile after a few storms. But historic accounts of beaches in the Caribbean often reveal that beaches have been narrowed considerably. Other accounts indicate that mining is particularly senseless in a time of rising sea level when sand is sorely needed as a storm energy buffer.
Sand winning has rendered many well-patronised beaches including the once famous Dansoman and Korle-Gonno beaches among other facilities useless and dangerous because of the strength of the waves.
The direct effect of such activities has been the strong tidal waves, which sweep away homes and destroy property worth millions of cedis each year. There is also the case of the Keta and Ada sea erosion, which is costing the taxpayer a fortune instead of earning the state some foreign exchange.
Besides the issue of sand winning, there is also the use of the country’s beaches as refuse dumps and sites for the discharge of all manner of waste by no less institutions but in many instances, local authorities including the various assemblies, as well as private institutions.
Considering the danger such activities pose to the environment and its attendant loss of revenue to the state, the Daily Graphic joins the Central Regional Minister, Mrs Ama Benyiwa-Doe, to condemn such illegal acts, which are posing grave dangers to our environment.
We do not accept that sand winning is a source of livelihood for many people because the impact of the act makes many more people including the state worse off while only a handful benefit from such illegal acts.
The time has come for the authorities to take firm action to save the remaining beaches from further destruction and this can be done by arresting people and prosecuting them to serve as a deterrent to others.
The Daily Graphic believes that this move will be met with the usual call to temper justice with mercy but it will be expensive to ignore the illegal act now because the consequences can be grave.
It will therefore be prudent for various district assemblies to wage a relentless war on the illegal sand miners to bring the situation under control.