Communication team Member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Padmore Baffour Agyapong has supported calls against the burning of seized excavators belonging to illegal miners as government strives to fight the menace.
According to him, the government could have acted differently in this case but “because galamsey is destroying our environment and government is passionate about ending this menace, it has not put anger aside and properly plan for the way forward”.
He believes the situation will remain the same and probably worsen if the excavators are burnt without illegal miners being prosecuted.
“I agree with those saying we should not burn seized excavators. These excavators can be an advantage to the government if it wants to successfully win the fight against galamsey. They can be used to reclaim these mined lands at a later time.
We should rather punish owners of the excavators and not burn them. When the person is in jail, he can’t use the excavator so why are we rather burning them and letting the culprits go scot-free”, he reasoned.
The politician motioned that after government wins the fight against galamsey, it will have to reclaim the land “and that is when these excavators will be needed the most. We will need them to level the land for other purposes”.
He argued the government’s decision to burn these excavators stems from the fear past events will repeat itself. He shared these in a discussion on Happy 98.9FM’s Epa Hoa Daben political talk show with Don Kwabena Prah.
The government faced some challenges in its first attempt to fight galamsey as excavators seized from illegal miners mysteriously got lost whilst in other instances, they (authorities) resold these equipment to previous owners.
Padmore motioned that if this was rattling the government and it now doubted its ability to fight the menace, “then we have just admitted failure”.
He challenged the Minister of Defence’s directive saying, “it was not right. We need to rethink the strategy and save the situation. If we want to save the environment, then we need to save the excavators”.
On Friday, April 30th, 2021, Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul stated that all the seized galamsey equipment including excavators will be destroyed on site by the military officers deployed to the galamsey areas.
“We are not seizing any equipment, no equipment will be returned home, they will all be destroyed on site. No excavator, nothing will come back home,” the Minister said at a press conference.
His statement followed President Akufo-Addo’s order for the deployment of about 200 soldiers to mining areas to clamp down on activities by illegal miners.