Leadership of the Media Coalition Against Galamsey (MCAG) conferred with the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye and Parliamentary Leadership to discuss pathways of curbing the galamsey menace.
Parliamentary leadership present were the First Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu, Majority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu,Acting Director of Public Affairs at Parliament, Kate Addo among other administrative officials.
According to the convener of the Coalition, Mr. Ken Ashigbey, the purpose of the visit was to brief the Hon. Speaker of the efforts of the MCAG and to seek support from parliament in the fight against galamsey. MCAG believes galamsey is as a result of system and leadership failure and that the judicial system has been lenient on illegal miners, as paltry fines have been imposed on them.
He said with the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 900, if a Ghanaian is found to have engaged in ‘galamsey’, he or she is to be fined 2,000 to 20,000 penalty units, adding that currently, a penalty unit is GHC12 ¢2,400.00 to ¢24,000.00 fine or up to a prison term of 10 years. The convener also mentioned that for foreigners, the fine is between 30,000 penalty units and 300,000 or up to 20 years imprisonment.
Mr. Ashigbey stated that when Aisha Wang and four others were arrested by the Immigration authorities and brought to the court, charges preferred against them were only under the Immigration Act while they were suspected to have contravened the Minerals and Mining Act as well.
“When they were brought back to the court, the judge fined them ¢2,400.00 but they were actually having ¢60,000.00 with them at the court there, so immediately, they asked that they should take the fine out of it and give them, their balance”, he said.
Political leadership has grown lax and it is critical to resolve this, as MPs – in whose jurisdiction galamsey was ongoing – were not championing the cause.
The convener reiterated that, weak prosecutorial systems dampen their spirts and that the needed night vision goggles to work as the “modus operandi’’ of galamsey activities have shifted to the night and also equipping them with drones to help in monitoring
Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu questioned the loyalty of the media when they chided him for saying he preferred a shoot-to-kill policy in the galamsey fight. He encouraged the media to focus on the issues and to support the concerns of MCAG
Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu expressed worry on the voluntary desertification of Ghana whiles a country like Burkina Faso is struggling hard to protect it self from being a desert. Burkina Faso does not permit the charcoal burning but they burn in Ghana and export to Burkina Faso. He bemoaned the breach of environmental safety procedures and urged all to desist as Ghana sooner that later may be invaded by unknown diseases.