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Ghana gears up for River Guards to protect environment from pollution from illicit miners

The government has procured five new patrol boats to be used by the security services as part of measures to stem the menace of mining on river bodies in the country, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, has disclosed.

The boats he said would be deployed on to rivers Ankobra and Pra in the Western Region, Birmin in the Eastern Region and the Black Volta in the Savannah Region by the end of August.

“As a more lasting solution to the pollution of our river bodies, I am happy to announce that the ministry has procured five patrol boats which will be used by the security services to patrol and protect our rivers,” he said.

The Minister disclosed this when he took his turn at the bi-weekly Minister’s Briefing organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday.

He explained that the ministry had adopted a two-pronged approach in dealing with the menace of illegal mining in the country and these were law enforcement and reformation of the sector.

Mr Jinapor said in the area of law enforcement an engagement had been held with all stakeholders in the sector and had been agreed that all 16 regional ministers and their respective coordinating councils lead law enforcement in their respective districts.

Furthermore, he said river bodies continued to be ‘red zones’ for mining, while reconnaissance, prospecting and exploration in forest reserves continued to be suspended except in exceptional circumstances.

“Forest guards of the Forestry Commission have been working with the relevant security agencies to enforce this ban, and Operation Halt II supports them from time to time,”

He noted that more mine inspectors had been recruited while the commission had been resourced to undertake effective regulation.

“In accordance with Section 92 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), we have established Small Scale Mining Committees in the various mining districts, to assist the District Offices of the Minerals Commission to effectively monitor, promote and develop mining operations in their jurisdictions,” he emphasised.

Mr Jinapor said so far, 70 of these committees had been inaugurated in the various mining districts, and 13 more in the Savannah, North East, Upper West and Upper East regions, were due to be inaugurated today, in Bolgatanga.

This he said would be the first time, since the enactment of Act 703 in 2006, that Small Scale Mining Committees had been established in all the mining districts of our country.

“We have, also, placed a ban on the manufacture and sale of the floating platform, popularly referred to as “Changfan”, and we are in the process of amending Act 703 to expand, legally, the scope of this ban,” he emphasised.

In a recent event organized by the Accra Mining Network, the World Bank Mining Specialist, Mr. Ekow Bartels intimated that, this was in the pipeline to monitor the rivers in Ghana.

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