Sellers of machines used mostly by illegal small scale miners to extract gold from the ore, appear unfazed by the ongoing campaign to clamp down on the activities of the miners, popularly known as galamsey.
Already, some galamseyers have surrendered some of the heavy-duty equipment including excavators, to the government following the expiration of a three-week ultimatum given them by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu. However, the same cannot be said of the manufacturers and sellers of the machine, which is used to wash the ore to extract the gold.
A visit to some towns in the Western Region by the Takoradi-based local radio station, Connect FM, showed an assembly of the machines for sale to the small scale miners despite the reinvigorated campaign by the government and civil society to stop galamsey in the country.
The machine, which is locally manufactured and takes between two to three days to produce, is being sold between GHC GHC9,000 and 10,000 in the Tarkwa area and its environs where the activities of galamsey is predominant.
Sellers of these galamsey ‘washing machines’ had lined up the products at vantage points in Essaman, Tarkwa – Nsuaem, Bonsa, Bogoso, Prestea and Huni Valley among other towns in the Western region that are tagged galamsey prone areas. Galamsey has arguably become the mainstay of the people in the area, particularly the youth who claim to have no alternative business to earn them a living.
They claim “galamsey is a generational job and a readily available job now” Although the sellers and manufacturers of the machine refused to speak to Connect FM on the new development which is likely to affect their business, a source who claimed anonymity told the team “patronage is very high”.
Galamsey has over the years caused massive destruction to the country’s forest covers, water bodies, arable and farmlands in most part of Ghana, something that has triggered calls to end galamsey.
Government and some civil society groups have started a massive campaign aimed at ultimately ending the illegal mining and regulating those licenced where necessary to protect the country’s environment and natural resources that are under threat. Meanwhile, the Western Regional Communications Manager of Ghana Water Company Limited, Nana Yaw Barima Barnie, told Connect FM the activities of galamsey has caused their production capacity of six million gallons per day at the Daboase Water Headworks to be reduced to as low as three million gallons per day.
The Inchaban installed capacity of four million has dropped to 1.3 million gallons per day. The situation, he explained, has resulted in a 5.7-million gallons of water deficit per day in the region, resulting in water rationing in the Sekondi/ Takoradi metropolis.
The Bonsa River which is main source of the Bonsa Headworks has dried up and its color changed to dirty brown making it expensive for treatment, the Ghana Water Company said. But the illegal small scale miners do not agree to claims that their activities are the cause of the water pollution, arguing that galamsey has been in existence for decades of years, saying “even in Kwame Nkrumah’s time galamsey was there. Why was it that rivers were not polluted? You should find the cause of the pollution”