The District Chief Executive of Adansi Akrofuom in the Ashanti Region, Maurice Jonas Woode, has led an operation to arrest two illegal miners who were operating in the Supuma Forest near Betenase in the Akrofuom District.
The operation team also included personnel from the Ghana Police Service and the Forestry Commission.
The suspects, who are from Tamale in the Northern Region. are Dagbe Ernest Suglo, 27, and Napoba Alareku, 27.
Addressing the press after the arrest, DCE Woode said even before the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Jinapor, declared forest reserves and water bodies as red zones, the Assembly had already teamed up with the Forestry Commission at Betenase to sensitize all and sundry on the dangers of illegal mining and advised them to protect the forest.
He continued “but to our dismay, we had information that the illegal miners had pitched camp in the area with five sprinter buses and were even fighting among themselves”.
The DCE further stated that they had tried on several occasions to clamp down on their activities but to no avail since they no more used excavators but have adopted the metal detector system, which is mostly complicated and becomes very difficult for their operations to be noticed.
He continued that the miners upon getting wind of the presence of the operation team, fled, leaving their machines behind while luck ran out on two of their colleagues who were immediately apprehended by the police.
LOGISTICS FOR FORESTRY GUARDS
Mr Jonas Woode appealed to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to provide logistics for the Forestry Commision to enable them crack down on activities of the illegal miners who, he said, have adopted sophisticated methods to carry out their activities.
The Assistant District Manager at the Bekwai office of the Forestry Commission, Palmer Amponsah, praised the DCE for his unwavering efforts to stop illegal mining in his District.
He mentioned that though the Commission is doing its best to stop the activities of illegal miners, their numbers are too small.
He called on the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to provide them with logistics judging from the new approaches adopted by the galamseyers.
“Since the use of excavators by galamseyers has almost come to a halt, they have adopted the use of metal detectors which look like bag. This is very difficult to detect.”
ASP Mahama Iddrisu, who is in charge of Operations at the Obuasi Divisional Command, debunked the notion that the police find it difficult to prosecute galamseyers.
He opined that the police need hard core evidence to successfully prosecute illegal miners.
ASP Mahama Iddrisu, a former prosecutor, said “the major challenge we face in the prosecution of illegal miners is the absence of hard core evidence in some instances. The court will always set the accused free if the evidence found against him is not strong enough”.