Illegal miners have cut down vegetation covering more than forty acres of land in the Anwhiaso-Bibiani Municipality of the Western-North Region. This vast amount of space, comparable to thirty football fields, included several farmlands in the Aboabo community, the Anhwiaso River and portions of the Anhwiaso East Forest Reserve. Residents of the Aboabo community are however unperturbed by the destruction as they are ready to trade more farmlands to the miners. The unlawful mining activities in many areas of the country, especially in the Ashanti and the Western regions continue to wreak havoc on land, forest reserves and water bodies in mining communities. Trees have been felled, cocoa farmsu and important economic crops have been cleared, either illegally or willingly by farmers for galamsey to thrive. At Aboabo, a small farming community in the Anwhiaso enclave, illegal miners have subdued farm lands spanning several acres. The Anwhiaso East Forest Reserve, which is one of 8 forest zones of the Anwhiaso-Bibiani municipality, have also seen portions intruded by illegal miners in their quest for gold. The Aboabo River and Aframpie River have been heavily impacted. The Aboabo river, which leads to the Ankobra river, has been blocked to supply water for the illegal mining activities. Despite the intervention by the Rapid Response Team of the Forestry Commission in 2019, the situation persists as farmers and community members connive with illegal miners to harm the forest. Theophilus Kofie, a resident, says the community is willing to lease all lato illegal miners. “The presence of Galamseyers have brought us development. They have given us a road, helping with the construction of our school block. We are in support of what they do here,” he said.
Some political leaders in the area are alleged to be owning illegal mining sites. Christopher Agyedu says he is ready to resist attempts to restore the wreckage, saying the galamseyers obtained the lands lawfully. ”Galamseyers did not force anyone. They came into agreements with owners of these ones and they willingly leased them,” he said. Whilst their resistance has been fierce, some concerned community members are appalled by the looming health and environmental hazards of illegal mining. Chem Samuel, a farmer in the Aboabo community, observed that strong political hands make the fight against illegal miners difficult. He is therefore appealing to the Minerals Commission and anti-galamsey institutions to intensify measures in curbing the menace in the Anhwiaso enclave. ”Those in support of this menace at Aboabo even said, it would not go anywhere. And an individual like me has no strength, fiance, or military. I would appeal that the government and mineral commission take this up and intensify the fight,” he said. Municipal Chief Executive, Paul Andoh, however believes the authorities in the municipality have been proactive in the fight against illegal mining.
Municipal Chief Executive, Paul Andoh
He says the lack of jobs and quest for development should not be an excuse for the devastating of lands, forests and water bodies through illegal mining. “When we got the Intel, we gathered the municipality’s security force to halt the exercise. We seized four excavators, although the owner is still unknown. And so we have been proactive about the situation. “But we are eating with two hands. Being unemployed or underdevelopment does not legitimize illegality,” he said