File photo: pit

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has blamed chiefs, District Chief Executives, regional authorities and opinion leaders for the worsening state of illegal mining in the country.

According to him, their actions and inactions have significantly contributed to the impunity with which illegal miners destroy forests in search of minerals, despite efforts by government to halt their activities.

Speaking at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) at its Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources’ 40th Anniversary celebration, he noted that it was rather unfair for local authorities to feign ignorance when they notice these illegalities happening.

He has, thus, called on all and sundry, particularly local authorities to play an active part in ending the canker once and for all.

His comments follow a working visit to Manso Datano in the Amansie South District of the Ashanti Region where hectares of land have been destroyed.

According to him, that volume of destruction could not have happened without the various stakeholders such as chiefs, and district and regional authorities among others being aware and even aiding these activities.

“I come from a palace and I can say without a shred of equivocation that in most cases, no one, and I repeat, no one can bring a chain saw to harvest in the forest or an excavator to mine in the bush or chanfang to work on a river body in a community without the knowledge, acquiescence or passive approval somehow of the chief, elders, the assemblymen, opinion leaders and or local authorities in the community.

“We have to begin to be blunt about this situation on our hands. It is the honest truth and, sadly for me, I am having to say it and do so publicly. Ladies and gentlemen, you may have heard that on Thursday 29th September 2022 on behalf of the president of the republic, I paid a working visit to our men and women in uniform–the operation halt two team in Manso Datano in the Amansie South District,” he said.

”I was shocked by what I saw. Almost a whole community has been created in the heart of the forest with poultry and goat rearing, beds, a kitchen, and bathrooms among others. The devastation must have been occasioned by years, if not decades of destruction.

“The question I ask is, how could this have happened on the blind side of the chief, elders, assemblymen, unit committee members, district police commander, district chief executive, district officers of the minerals commission, forestry commission, environmental protection agency and the members of the community?

“I do not seem to tarnish the reputation of any person or institution, but I dare say that even regional authorities may not be able to escape from this particular situation and feign ignorance of it,” he added.