The residents of Nzema East, Ellembelle and Jomoro Districts, in the Western Region, have expressed worry about the destruction of land, forests and pollution of water bodies in their areas through illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey.
They noted that aside the environmental destruction, rivers in their lands, namely Ankobra (Azule Siane), Tano (AzuleTano?), Subili (Subile), as well as water bodies elsewhere, which were once sources of drinking water for the people and livestock, had been polluted.
They explained that these water sources had been poisoned with mercury and cyanide, and that the ecosystem was under serious threat.
The residents, in a statement, jointly signed by Executive Secretary, Nzema Advocacy for Peace and Development (NAPaD), Lord Cudjoe, and Executive Secretary, Nzema Koyele Eku(NKE), Dr Francis Apoh, and copied the Ghanaian Times, last Friday, said it was about time stakeholders took stringent measures to stop the wanton and reckless destruction of the environment in the Nzema enclave.
They, therefore, appealed to the President, chiefs, Members of Parliament (MPs), security agencies, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Municipal, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), to collaborate efforts to stop galamsey in the three districts.
The statement noted that illegal mining also posed health risk, explaining that“health experts indicate a surge in kidney failure, erosive bronchitis, bronchiolitis and intestinal pneumonitis is caused by vapourised mercury. Mercury pollution offoetusin pregnant women, has also been reported in the area.”
According to the groups, the contamination of ground water, loss of vegetative cover, high level of particulate matter and vapourised mercury adversely affected the quality of air, flora and fauna in general in Nzema area.
The statement indicated that there was “growing worry from partner nations and consumers over the impact of galamsey on the wholesomeness and safety of cocoa and cocoa farmers in the Nzema area.”
It said Subile River in Nkroful, famous for the narration of the birth and childhood events of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, and, therefore, a tourism attraction, had become a mud puddle, due to illegal gold mining.
The residents thus called for the banning of alluvial mining in Nzema land until proper regulatory framework and enforcement of rules on mining were in place.
The statement urged intensive education on effects of galamsey on socio-economic activities, through the media, particularly local radio, and strengthening and resourcing of EPA and other regulatory bodies, to check activities of licensed mining companies.
“Ban the use of mercury in mining in Nzema with immediate effect, reclaim galamsey sites (pits) by planting trees and shrubs, to restore degraded land, prevent death and minimise effect of mercury on humans and environment,” it said.
The groups reminded chiefs to sustain their role of conserving the vegetation and water bodies for the current and future generations.
They called for more commitment to eradicating irresponsible mining, by involving the chiefs and people in the issuance of mining licenses and ensuring impartial enforcement of mining laws.
The groups urged both traditional and political leaders to work with Nzema groups, to form an Nzema Maanle task force to monitor and report illegal mining to the appropriate authorities and ensure enforcement of mining laws.