By Capt Andy Sowatey
Only 76 out of 2,185 (3.47%) of suspected illegal miners arrested have been convicted, whiles there is a sharp rise in the number of other African nationals joining in illegal mining in Ghana, the outgone Commander of Operation VANGUARD – the Military cum Police Joint Task Force (JTF) mandated to stop illegal mining – Colonel (Col) Konadu, has decried.
Col Konadu made the revelations at a handing/taking over ceremony held on Tuesday, 4th June, 2019 at the JTF Headquarters at Obuasi-Wawasi, where the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Central Command (C/COMD) – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Joseph Aphour, superintended the handing over to the new Commander – Col William Nii Nortey.
Stating further particulars, Col Konadu revealed that from January to May 2018, 12 people from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were arrested for engaging in illegal mining in the country, however, the number hiked up to102, same period in 2019.
Col Konadu added that by the end of May 2019, Op VANGUARD had seized and immobilised a total of 9,111 Schanfagn machines, whiles within the same period, a total of 369 people have been arrested, 40 excavators seized and 84 others immobilized, depending on their state at the time of seizure.
The outgone Commander was of the opinion that the slow pace of prosecution and conviction of arrested illegal miners seemed to have emboldened illegal miners to carry out their nefarious activities with impunity.
GOC Brig Gen Joseph Aphour, in his brief remarks, charged the troops to rally behind the new Commander to successfully clamp down on illegal mining in the country, to restore the environment and sanity, while the new Commander, Col Nortey, urged the troops to support him to achieve the goal for which Op VANGUARD was birthed.
Mission Op VANGUARD, from inception, has had Col William Agyapong, Brig Gen M Amoah Ayisi, Col Jackson Wongye, Col Konadu and now Col Nortey, lead the charge for the national course.
Present at the ceremony were the Municipal Chief Executive for Obuasi – Elijah Bonah, the District Chief Executives for Obuasi East and Adansi Asokwa, the Commander Rear for the 4th Battalion of Infantry – Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) KW Peprah and the District Police Commander amongst others.