Overloard of Asanteman, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has slammed the lukewarm attitude of Ghanaians towards the fight against illegal small-scale mining activities.
He insisted that both private and public officials were to blame for the destruction that the forests and water bodies have suffered due to that illegal activity.
According to him, instead of stemming the worrying trend of destruction of arable lands and water bodies in the country, people in authority showed no sign of concern.
Some chiefs, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II noted, had been part of illegal mining since they have continually leased out lands to groups and companies known for engaging in illegal mining.
Speaking at the Manhyia Palace when members of the Operation Vanguard, the anti-galamsey task-force, paid a courtesy call on him, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II commended the team for its effort, but urged them to stand their grounds in the fight they have started to rid the country of further destruction to water bodies and vegetation.
The Asantehene also urged government to sustain the fight against illegal mining and advised that they work to find job opportunities for the youth so as to lure them from the illegal activity.
Taking a swipe at some of the country’s public officials, Otumfuo wondered why officers at the Minerals Commission as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continued to give certification to persons they knew are engaged in illegal mining rather than the small scale mining they claimed the licence for.
Otumfuo noted that no proper monitoring had also been done by these regulatory agencies to check on these miners to ascertain the kind of mining they were doing with the licences they had acquired.
Some of the small scale mining companies, Otumfuo disclosed had been allowed to mine anyhow due to the lack of monitoring by these state agents.
The Asantehene, therefore, charged the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to take a critical look at persons manning these agencies to rid it of corrupt officials whose activities had led to the wanton destruction of the country’s forest.
Speaking to the media, Leader of Operation Vanguard team, Colonel William Agyepong, said the task-force was resolved to work with utmost professionalism.
According to him, the team was guided by the mandate given to it by the state and the President, adding that no one in the team will be allowed to do anything contrary to the law.
However, he warned persons who were still mining illegally at various sites in the country to desist from doing any further damage since the team will arrest and deal with those the meet on site.