The Atiwa West District of the Eastern Region has formed a 62 Galamstop Taskforce at Kwabeng to patrol the Birim River to protect it from pollution.
The group, have gone through military drill, equipped with the necessary logistics including cannons and have the mandate to ensure that the turbidity of the river is improve in the next one month.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) who inaugurated the Galamstop Taskforce at Kwabeng said the duty of the group would complement that of the Operation Vanguard, a Military Police Joint Task Force set up by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2017 to combat the operation of galamsey in the country.
The Minister as part of the inauguration engaged stakeholders in the mining industry to discuss emerging issues in the sector after the ban was lifted last December.
He said as part of the best practices to mine sustainably and responsibly, miners were not supposed to use champhan machines on the river, dredge close to river, process and discharge waste water into the river.
The Galamstop Taskforce approach, he said when successful, would be replicated in other mining regions.
“From next month, if you are caught engaging in dredging in the Birim and its tributaries, your equipment will be confiscated and the law will deal with you,” he said.
He said per the law, foreign nationals were not supposed to be engaged in small scale mining.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng advised farmers not sell their farmlands to foreigners to mine and degrade the land for immediate gains but rather protect the land for prosperity.
He expressed sadness at the current state of the Birim River and asked the indigenous to report people who engaged in mining in the river to the appropriate quarters.
“In the 80’s, the river, which is the major river that serves the region was clean and we used to harvest fish from it. Now, people cannot drink water from the river, I cannot even describe the colour of the water because it is heavily populated,” he said.
Mr Kingston Akomeng Kissi, Operations Director of the Galamstop Taskforce appealed to the communities to support the team to ensure that they stopped illegal activities on the Birim River to restore its turbidity.
Mr Kofi Agyemang, Chief Executive Officer of Kibi Mining Company said the Association, of Small-scale Mining would comply with the rules of mining, and give the necessary support to the Taskforce to succeed.