Government says it is going to deploy speed boats to fight illegal mining also known as galamsey on river bodies.
According to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the move will enable it reach forest zones where illegal mining practices are used to destroy and pollute water bodies.
Speaking at the maiden Environmental Sustainability Summit (ESS) organised by the B&FT on the theme ‘The Socio-Economic Impact of Pollution on Natural Life’, a Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Benito Owusu-Bio, said the new initiative of deploying speed boats will help better monitor activities on river bodies in mining communities.
“Forest guards of the Forestry Commission have been working with the relevant security agencies to enforce this ban, and we are in the process of recruiting and training river guards to protect our river-bodies. In a few days’ time, we are going to launch new speed-boats. We are going to use the river guards to chase galamseyers on the river-bodies.”
Mr Owusu-Bio also used the occasion to highlight some other major interventions being implemented by the ministry to address challenges in environmental sustainability.
“The ministry has also placed a ban on the manufacture and sale of the floating platforms popularly referred to as ‘Changfan’, which are normally used for illegal mining within river-bodies. In partnership with the Ministry of Defence, ‘Operation Halt It’ has been launched to support law enforcement measures.
“The National Alternative Employment and Livelihood Programme (NAELP) has been introduced to provide alternative sources of livelihood for those affected by the fight against illegal mining. Community mining schemes have been revamped and operational manuals developed to promote responsible and environmentally-sound small-scale mining,” he said.
The deputy minister further expressed government’s commitment to ensuring that the environment is safe, sustainable, devoid of pollutants and activities leading to degradation of natural resources.
“The ministry is fully committed to ensuring environmental sustainability, and is ready to partner any institutions which complement its efforts in this direction. We have a collective duty as a people to leave a cleaner, healthier and better environment for our coming generations than we have today,” he noted.
Mr Owusu-Bio reiterated warnings that “developing countries will bear the brunt of these adverse consequences of climate change… because of high vulnerability levels and low adoption capacities”.
Detailing a lengthy catalogue of initiatives the ministry has undertaken to address these issues, he called for increased public-private partnerships to attain the transition goal.
“The issues are fundamental threats to economic stability, and therefore requires thoughtful management, prudent investments and technological innovation from both the public and private sectors of our economy.
“The ministry is fully committed to ensuring environmental sustainability and is ready to partner with any institutions which orient their efforts in this direction,” he said.
On a similar tack, the Dean of Students, School of Sustainable Development at the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD), Dr. Danielle Sedegah, warned about the economic cost of environmental pollution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which stood at US$6.3billion or 10.7 percent of the 2017 GDP against a global average of 3.9 percent.
She added that the already vulnerable – women and children – remain the most-affected by environmental degradation.
Offering a rationale for the summit, Chief Executive Officer of the B&FT Dr. Godwin Acquaye said it was born out of the environment’s evident importance to economic and social prosperity, as well as the dearth of comprehensive coverage on such matters.
He reiterated the media outlet’s commitment to using its reach for driving conversations around relevant issues and measuring the impact of its initiatives.