THE Regional Security Council (REGSEC) has apparently woken from it slumber and moved to battle the continuous invasion of our water bodies by illegal miners, popularly known as 'galamsey operators'.
The galamsey operators have, over the months, invaded water bodies undertaking their activities right inside them, and in the process polluting the very water which serves as source of drinking water for indigenes of the region.
The main two water bodies, River Pra and Ankobram which the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) processes for onward consumption and usage by indigenes in the region, have been invaded by the galamsey operators, who are having a field day with their operations.
The extent of the invasion by the galamsey operators have apparently pushed the REGSEC to act to save the situation.
Consequently, the REGSEC, at the weekend, undertook a joint Military/Police
patrol exercise at various water bodies to arrest the galamsey operators who have invaded water bodies as reported earlier by the Western File.
The exercise led to the arrest of five galamsey operators. The five, who are Chinese nationals, are Jiang Yide, Lia Shonghong, Jiang Yongquan, Mei Yunping and Huan Yulin.
Briefing the press after the exercise, the Regional Commander of the Ghana Police Service, DCOP Ransford Ninson, bluntly pointed out that 'As a result of the alarming destructive activities of illegal miners on the water bodies and the environment within the region, a joint Police and Immigration team, under the auspices of REGSEC and National Security Council, has for some time now been conducting operations to flush out these miscreants, in order to arrest the situation.
He continued that as a result, the REGSEC mounted operations at the Kutukrom, Sika Ne Asem and Tumantu villages, where the galamsey operators were carrying out their activities with impunity.
At Kutukrom, the Regional Commander said, five galamsey operators were also arrested working inside the River Ankobra in search of alluvial gold. Their equipments were also confiscated.
At Sike Ne Asem village, four other galamsey operators were also undertaking their activities inside River Pra. They were also arrested and their equipments confiscated.
At Tumantu, which is 300 metres away from Sika Ne Asem, another batch of 18 galamsey operators were also arrested working inside the same River Ankobra.
Regional Commander Ninson appealed to galamsey operators and other investors to stop mining 'in our water bodies, because our laws do not allow people to mine 200 metres from water bodies.'
In fact, the continuous invasion and pollution of water bodies by the galamsey operators, which recently attracted action from REGSEC, have compelled stakeholders in the water sector to express grave worry over the growing invasion.
According to the stakeholders, the rate at which the galamsey operators had invaded the water bodies calls for a concerted approach and effort to get rid of them.
To this end, the stakeholders urged the REGSEC to wake up from its slumber and devise means to immediately arrest the wanton invasion of the water bodies by the galamsey operators.
To the stakeholders, the continued silence of the REGSEC on the menace, following the Western File earlier exposures was an admission that the Council, headed by Paul Evans Aidoo, Regional Minister, has failed in winning the battle against the galamsey operators.
The call by the stakeholders follows the continued invasion of the two most popular rivers in the region, which serve as sources of drinking water. The two are River Pra located in Daboase and Ankobra in Prestea.
The two rivers have been invaded by the galamsey operators to the extent that one of them, river Ankobra, has become stagnant for months and cannot flow freely.
This problem has risen because of the heaping of the sand into the river by the galamsey operators.
With the River Pra, located in Daboase, the activities of the galamsey operators have contributed to the re-direction of the flow of the river elsewhere, culminating in the rationing of water by the management of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to residents of Sekondi-Takoradi and its environs.
Sharing their concerns with The Chronicle on the subject matter, one of the stakeholders, Mr. Kwabena Dickson, who is also a Broadcast Journalist, blamed the continued invasion on our water bodies by the galamsey operators on the REGSEC.
According to Dickson, the REGSEC had shown that it was weak, and should admit that it had lost the battle against illegal mining in our waters.
'In fact, REGSEC is weak and has failed in their duty to protect our water bodies from invasion.'
Kwabena Dickson, who also faulted the District Security Councils (DISEC), chaired by chief executives of the two Districts, for failing to act.
Another stakeholder, Ekow Daniels, who spoke to this file on the subject matter, urged the REGSEC to review its strategies, since the galamsey operators had now revised their modus operandi and were evading arrest.
It is on record that the continued invasion of the River Pra upstream by the galamsey operators, and the low tide level, has culminated in the drying up of the river.
In that direction, Intermerc is working to dredge the water, as well as build an embankment to save the river.