File photo: pit

Asarekrom, a farming community in the Amansie West District in the Ashanti Region, is literally bleeding as the community has been completely taken over by illegal mining, commonly called galamsey.

This has left natives in despair as their main source of livelihood — farming — is in ruins, with vast tracts of land and even the community’s deity mined out.

Already, about 560 acres of the small community have been consumed by the illegal miners, some of whom are foreigners who carry out their large-scale activities with bulldozers and excavators.

The situation has resulted in an increase in the cost of food items in the community.

The environment has been ravaged, water bodies polluted, and farms and forests destroyed.

Indeed, cassava, which could sell for GH¢5 in Kumasi, the regional capital, is being sold at between GH¢15 and GH¢20 at Asarekrom, a suburb of Manso Nkwanta, the district capital.

Residents trek for almost two kilometres daily to get water for domestic chores.

Most of the residents now depend on rainwater for their domestic chores and farming activities.

The Daily Graphic gathered this last Friday when some journalists in Kumasi visited the Asarekrom community to see for themselves how the town was fast deteriorating as a result of these illegal mining activities. 

Tour expedition

Accompanied by Opanin Akwasi Mensah, the Abusuapanin of Pakyi No 1, the traditional authority that takes care of the area, an Nkosuohene of Asarekrom, Nana Amoakohene; some youth of the community and security personnel, the team came face to face with environmental degradation, a devastation being inflicted on the community in broad daylight.

With heavy machinery at work, light-skinned foreigners directing affairs, some youth dug away the life of the soil and the future of agriculture and unborn generations with careless abandon.

The team arrived in the town around 11 a.m., and after about two hours of trekking and manoeuvring the narrow, bushy and muddy route, reached the site of the relentless illegal mining.

Two female journalists, whose boots gave way during the virtual jungle walk through the pitted path, ended their journey midway.

The illegal miners bolted upon hearing of the arrival of the team, leaving their mining equipment behind.

While the key figures, the foreigners, ran into the forest, some of the youth kept on mining.

On one side stood some youngsters, who looked like teenagers, who had brought food, drinks and bottled water to sell to the miners.

They included a lactating mother and her baby.

Poor infrastructure

As has come to be associated with galamsey activities, the illegal activity must have fetched the illegal miners and their sponsors thousands in foreign currencies, but the town’s infrastructure does not portray a community with such volume of wealth mined from its belly.

The roads in the community are in a sorry state so passengers sometimes had to alight and push their vehicles anytime they got stuck on the muddy roads.

Wastewater from the mining activities ends up on sections of the road, making the neighbouring communities — Abom, Banko, Antoakrom and Nsiana — difficult to access.

Concerns

Some residents who spoke to the Daily Graphic said what even beat their imagination was that Akai — a stream where their spiritual god, Namafuaa, dwelt and where natives performed rituals to seek clearance in order to enter the wild forest reserve in the community — had all been raided by the illegal mining activities.

Opanin Akwasi Mensah, for instance, expressed concern that the traditional authorities had not been able to tackle the issue head-on.

“Our people can’t get common drinking water; all the fish in our streams have vanished,” the Obusuapanyin said, and called on the Asantehene to intervene, stressing that “we all know Otumfuo (Osei Tutu II) frowns on galamsey.”

The Nkosuohene of Asarekrom, Nana Amoakohene, told this reporter that the economic woes of the people were worsening because of illegal mining.

Meanwhile, the youth in Pakyi No.1 and Asarekrom gave a hint to the media that they intend to hit the streets in the coming days to demonstrate against the activities of the galamseyers and traditional authorities, saying the latter had failed to respond to the threat of the situation.

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