EDITORIAL: Prioritising Wealth Over Health In The Debate About Galamsey

EDITORIAL: Prioritising Wealth Over Health In The Debate About Galamsey

Health is the first wealth. When I was little whilst growing up in my father’s house, my favourite quote was this; Health is wealth. And he who has health has everything. But, it is as though, not all men cherish their health.

This morning, I read a touching article from one Efya Baron about galamsey and why people complain when seized excavators are burnt. In summary, her piece bemoans the attitude, that, we have prioritised wealth (excavators) over health (lives of people).

Indeed, we all know that, ‘galamsey’ (gather-them-and-sell) did not start today. The NPP administration has shown enough commitment towards its fight. At a point in time, persons without hard facts yet had wanted to discredit the fight against galamsey, cooked up stories as if government was into selling seized excavators from operators.

Our environment and water bodies are endangered; our future looks fearsome. We are at a confusing crossroad that demands a quick decision making. And here we are, having a minister who is ready to carry us along, yet we complain that, his approach is harsh.

Have you had the opportunity to see for yourself how miserable and devastating some mining communities have been barricaded to ground zero as a result of indiscriminate mining? Have you had the opportunity to see for yourself the colourless lakes and rivers (Ankobra, Pra etc) that served thousands years ago now turned colourful, and can no longer serve even two? Have you taken time to listen to concerned indigenes of galamsey communities, how endangered their lives are, as a result of abandoned galamsey sites that serve as death traps like that of Joseph Stalin’s (of USSR)? Can we now say that, the impact (positive) of mining on the economic growth of Ghana is inconclusive as the revenue we rake in are the same revenue to be used to restore the shaddy environments back to normalcy?

Efya Baron simply puts, ”when galamsey operators are arrested, we insist that they should be released because they have families to feed. Now, when the excavators are seized and set ablaze; we argue that it is harsh a treatment and that government must return them to the operators”, Hahahaha, Indeed, the blackman is an interesting specie you know!!!

According to a research carried out in the Western Region by Marie-Noelle Nwokolo, London School of Economics (LSE); as at 2017, an estimated 85% of small-scale miners in the country were operating on an illegal basis. By 2017, an estimated 200,000 Ghanaians (indirectly supporting up to three million people) were believed to make their living from small scale mining.

Ghana’s battle with illegal artisanal and small-scale mining

While the extent of galamsey has been difficult to measure, it is estimated to have cost the country about $2.2 billion in 2016 in uncollected tax alone. It is reported to cost an estimated $250 million to recover lands and waterbodies destroyed by galamsey in Ghana’s Western region alone. Not to talk about other regions.

The burning of excavators may not be the best of options but like Winston Churchill, ”in the absence of anything good the worst is considered the best”,
Yes ofcourse, mining (gold) is a major contributor to our GDP. The sector creates thousands of jobs yet, ”it remains the most controversial business everywhere”, according to Kwesi Amponsah-Tawiah, University of Ghana, in the research work below. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280557496_The_Mining_Industry_in_Ghana_A_Blessing_or_a_Curse

Now, let us rise to the occasion. And let’s fix this galamsey menace together. The better for us all before Ghana begins to import water for our survival. If imprisoning operators, seizing and handing over excavators to the state for auction purposes or at worst, setting these excavators ablaze will be the best option towards fighting the menace, why not.

Let’s support the Nana-Addo led administration for its total commitment against the fight of gather-them-and-sell, now that we have consented that, we cannot prioritize wealth over health.

NPP Communications Officer
Dome Kwabenya Constituency