Torched equipment not used for illegal mining - Minority Leader challenges Minister

The Minority Leader has said the torched tipper trucks and an excavator by a crack team of military personnel in the Northern region were not being used for illegal gold mining.

Haruna Iddrisu said the fact-finding mission he led did not find Chamfines – machines used for illegal gold mining in rivers – as claimed by the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul.

“Our fact-finding mission revealed that the chiefs and people of Dalun…were disappointed at the excessive action of the military. I heard the Minister for Defence mention a particular equipment which was used, our fact-finding did not find that machine.

“What we discovered were14 tipper trucks and one excavator…and it was a distance apart from the water body…they were being used for sand winning,” Haruna Iddrisu said.

A crack team of military personnel torched the equipment after several warnings to sand winners to stop their illegal activity close to the Dalun river.

Officials of the Ghana Water Company had raised concerns about the continuous pollution of the Dalun river due to the activities of sand winners.

The Northern region relies heavily on dams and rivers for their water supplies but most of these dams and rivers usually dry up in the dry season.

Many communities depend on the Dalun river for water but activities of sand winners have always threatened the safety of the river.

Last month, the National Security issued an ultimatum to all sand winners to stop their illegal activity and evacuate the area but the threat appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

Subsequently, the Operation Vanguard team set ablaze all the equipment used for sand winning in the area last week, courting the anger of not just the owners but the Minority MPs.

But speaking to Joy News’ Evans Mensah on Newsnight Tuesday, the Minority Leader said, “the Assembly there was taking revenue from them [illegal miners], so they must explain the legitimacy and legality of the action.”

Mr Iddrisu questioned Mr Nitiwul’s defence of the military seizing equipment in some areas but burning some in other areas.

Related: 14 tipper trucks torched by military men in Tamale over illegal sand winning

“That is discriminatory and unacceptable…we have every reason to support government’s fight in the preservation of water and the environment but it must be done in accordance with law and due process,” he added.

According to him, the Minister failed to produce evidence of the owners of the equipment’s failure to report to the police in the Region, when challenged. 

Meanwhile, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, is pushing for the security agencies to be given the power to shoot those involved in illegal mining. 

He says this is the only way to deter criminals from engaging in that act.

He was contributing to a statement on the Floor of Parliament by Kumbugu legislator, Ras Mubarak, who condemned the recent burning of trucks in his constituency by the military.

“Extreme behaviour must be met with an extreme response. We are dealing with people who are determined at every point to make their money without regards what they are doing to the environment,” he said.


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