Small Scale mining for the past few years has seen tremendous increase especially in the remote areas of this country. The operators of this business are mainly the Chinese who come down to the nation and employ indigenous Ghanaians to engage in this sort of business. Is small scale mining legal? The answer is a big YES. As legal as it is, it is and has gained grounds giving room for illegal small scale miners to influx the system and the effects on the socio-economic life of the places of operation and the nation in general is quite devastating as it poses a greater cost on the nation if stringent measures are not taken now to abolish the act totally from the face of our country. The Chinese leave their country to flourish economically and yet operate such venture in our country regardless of the threats this activity is posing to the wellbeing of the citizenry.
The major harm being caused by the activities of galamsey operators has been the depletion of our water bodies and pollution making it insufficient for use and unhealthy for consumption. Water like any other product is a necessity for human existence. We can’t live without water unlike us can live without electricity. Water plays an indispensable part of our daily lives.
The Importance of Water:
Water plays a significant role in our lives and yet it has no value, the value of water minimal compared to the important role it plays. Economists call this “the paradox of value” (you can read more on that). Water plays a major role in our daily lives including the few under listed;
- For washing
- For cleaning
- For consumption by either drinking or used in the preparation of food
- Used by our industries to aid production (as a factor of production)
- To aid medication at the hospitals etc
Currently our water bodies faces a greater challenge posed by the activities of galamsey operators within the country. The rate at which our water bodies are drying up gives the nation a scary signal that if appropriate measures are not taken to secure our water bodies, the nation may be importing water in the next 8 to 10 years. It would be quite unreasonable to sit unconcerned to finally see our water bodies dry up. Importing water in addition to what we already import would be disastrous considering our current exchange rate problem of the cedi depreciation as against the dollar. As evidence, few among the places whose water bodies have been affected include:
In the Western Region, the main water bodies that have been affected and polluted by galamsey operators include the River Pra, Daboase, and River Ankobra. I had the opportunity to conduct a survey at Prestea, Bogoso and Huni valley and the smaller towns within these towns had galamsey to be the major source of employment for the indigenes so it is quite undisputable to realize the water bodies within this region is dried up.
The main water body in the Eastern Region that has been polluted is Birim. Treatment Plants in Kyebi , which were meant for water treatment had to be shut down due to pollution of the Birim river which is beyond treatment.
Upper West Region
In the Upper West Region, the Black Volta is also polluted, forcing the Ghana Water Company to get a new water treatment plant to produce safe drinking water. “In the Upper West Region, we have a new treatment plant that will supply water to the Wa Municipality. The Black Volta is also currently disturbed as a result of galamsey operation.
Brong Ahafo Region
The situation is even worse in the Brong Ahafo Region, where residents have, according to reliable source blocked the “course of the river at certain intervals such that the water is unable to flow into some areas.” This situation is particularly endemic in Sunyani. Not too long ago, we all heard of the lack of water in Sunyani. Sources revealed that in the Central Region, some water bodies specifically at Cape Coast have been polluted as a result of galamsey activities.
Water being a basic necessity can’t be done away with, the activities of galamsey and the undeniable effect it is having on our water bodies is culpable of leading to environmental disaster as it has already started, conflict brought about by inequality in terms of distribution of water as it is being witnessed at Sunyani, war and consequently the future importation of water to satisfy our daily demands. The perpetuators must be made to pay for the cost of externalities brought about by this activity by compensating to the various communities and areas they operate either by providing pipe-borne water and better treatment plants that ensure proper processing and diverting good drinkable water to the indigenes.
We don’t only need water to be quantitatively sufficient to meet the demands of Ghanaians, water is also needed to be quality to promote good health and wellbeing. Without a hygienic and safe drinking water, we can’t be promised of a disease free lifestyle and environment. It is about time the big men in politics who are rather influencing the activities of galamsey realize the effect of this operation on the environment and our human life. The country needs to take a bold step to totally eradicate illegal mining from the face of our country. Our water needs to be protected for our wellbeing and that of the future generation.
Emmanuel De-Graft Quarshie
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