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25.06.2019 Feature Article

This Is Outrageous Beyond Measure!

...Operation Vanguard arrests 15 Chinese linked to illegal mining; China galamsey again
This Is Outrageous Beyond Measure!

“Members of the Operation Vanguard taskforce stationed … in the Western Region [have] apprehended 15 suspected Chinese illegal miners in the Juaboso District in the Western...”

“The operation… was carried out simultaneously at different sites within the general area of Bonsai… at about 5:30 a.m. [It] also resulted in the seizure of five excavators…”

“Galamseyers have resorted to operating deeper into the forest areas of the Western North Region, as the Taskforce has extended its operations into those areas….”

"Due to their reliance on locals, some of the illegal miners are proving more difficult to apprehend, because these spies have been warning them of the Taskforce, as and when [the Taskforce] approaches their sites. Some of the locals also harbour the illegal miners in their homes and are reluctant to give them up when their activities are reported.”

[This] is contrary to Section 99 (4) of Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, Act 900…UNQUOTE

I shuddered when I read this report.

“Oh, not again?” I asked myself. “What is wrong with these Chinese nationals and their Ghanaian accomplices?”

But I was asking the wrong question. There is nothing wrong with the Chinese nationals and their Ghanaian accomplices. Something is rather wrong with our law enforcement system!

Yes. If you have been following the world news in recent months, you would have seen on TV, thousands of Africans boarding rickety boats from North Africa and crossing – or trying to cross – the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Many got drowned sea when the unseaworthy contraptions into which people-traffickers had packed them, inevitably capsized. Some of the luckier voyagers managed to survive in the sea and were rescued by military/police patrol boats or commercial ships.

The rescued voyagers did not find life easy when they were deposited in European countries. Food and shelter; clothing; identity papers and passports; and worst of all – permission to stay in European cities as refugees or residents – these became nightmares that made many of the voyagers regret having left the “poverty-stricken” homelands they despised.

The European countries in which they landed did not always mean to harass them. Under pressure, some merely enforced their EXISTING LAWS. The Police were unleashed on the refugees, as they huddled in railway stations, bus depots truck loading points or hastily-erected, barely hygienic refugee camps.

To escape from the police, many people hid in containers in trucks and got suffocated to death. Others hung dangerously beneath the axles of juggernaut trucks and got killed.

One country, Hungary, even brought in new laws that prevented refugees from crossing its territory to other countries where they might be welcome!

Such things happened in European countries l some of which had been in the forefront of evolving legislation at the UN that protects human beings from being refused refuge if they could demonstrate that they had legitimate reason to fear persecution or death.

How does Ghana, on the other hand, treat brazen criminals who threaten its future chances of continuing to be HABITABLE, by destroying its rivers, streams and watercourses?

If they are Chinese or other foreign nationals, they are taken to the Ghana immigration authorities, who charge them with relatively minor “misdemeanours” under the Immigration Act. That is, if they cannot prove that they are in the country lawfully.

If the criminals are Ghanaians, they are given to the police, who have the discretion of allowing them to be BAILED, prior to being taken before a magistrate. A magistrate may then exercise his/her own discretion to continue or revoke the bail.

Is this sensible? In fact, the lengthy processes that bog down our court system ensure that the populace of Ghana hears very little more about these arrested people. Yet, in many countries, they would be treated as “special criminals” to be dealt with in a much more speedy fashion – to deter others from engaging in similar crimes.

We dawdle as -- our natural heritage is destroyed.

The Ghana Police do not stop the excavators and bulldozers that drive past their numerous checkpoints towards our rivers and streams. It is AFTER the excavators and bulldozers have reached our rivers and streams that – if we are lucky -- they are apprehended by the Vanguard Taskforce. That is, if the Taskforce is able to outwit the Ghanaian “spies” who tip off the galamseyers about the whereabouts of the taskforce.

Our petrol station attendants fill these excavators and bulldozers with fuel, without being required by law to ask them any questions about their destinations. If we were in a country with a strict law-enforcement regime (such as China!) I am sure the petrol stations would be required by law to report suspect purchases to the local authorities (in our case, the district and municipal chief executives, or local assemblymen).

Our police, judicial officers and local government personnel, are thus, by DOING NOTHING, passively collaborating in the continuation of galamsey in Ghana.

Quite honestly, it seems as if we are DELIBERATELY allowing galamsey and its associated destructive practices, to go on.

Read this:

QUOTE: General News of Saturday, 27 April 2019 Source: citinewsroom.com

“33 Chinese, 72 other foreigners arrested over galamsey in 2019 – Operation Vanguard

“The arrest of [another] 8 Chinese suspected illegal small scale miners in the last three weeks has brought to 33, the total number of arrests involving Chinese nationals. …Operation Vanguard [has] revealed that 72 other suspected foreign illegal miners have also been arrested…

“Several patrols were conducted within various targeted areas from… forward operating bases in order to deter these illegal miners,” the task force said.

“Operations conducted within these three weeks have so far resulted in the arrest of 8 suspected Chinese illegal miners from various sites. This brings the total number of suspected Chinese illegal miners arrested to 33 since January of this year 2019]. Additionally, 72 other suspected foreign illegal miners have been arrested this year….” UNQUOTE

So one asks: when will “enough” be “enough”?

When will we enact legislation to provide for a MANDATORY PRISON SENTENCE for all galamseyers, with the rider that foreign nationals who engage in galamsey will be deported after fully serving their sentences in Ghana?

When will our police authorities arrest those Ghanaians who provide bail for foreign nationals who engage in galamsey and charge them with “aiding and abetting” the nefarious enterprise of destroying rivers and streams?

People everywhere are waking up to the effects of destroying the atmosphere of Planet with “unconscious” practices, such as burning fossil fuels. The menace of throwing plastic bags and other unperishable rubbish anywhere, including the sea, rivers and sewage systems, is also being tackled.

We in Ghana, can already see the consequences of environmental careless.

We have made our rivers and streams turgid.

We are inexorably replacing water from rivers and streams with sachet water (whose price will rise exponentially as our destruction of our supplies of natural water escalates.)

When at all will we put on our thinking caps?

Cameron Duodu
Cameron Duodu, © 2019

Martin Cameron Duodu is a United Kingdom-based Ghanaian novelist, journalist, editor and broadcaster. After publishing a novel, The Gab Boys, in 1967, Duodu went on to a career as a journalist and editorialist. Author column: CameronDuodu

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