The Chairman of The Church of Pentecost and 2nd Vice Chairman of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Apostle Eric Nyamekye, yesterday joined a delegation of church leaders in Ghana on a fact-finding tour to some illegal mining (Galamsey) sites in the country.
The tour was meant to observe at firsthand the level of devastation perpetrated by the galamsey operators.
Among the church delegation was Bishop Dr Paul Boafo (Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana and immediate-past Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana), and Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong Manso (President, GPCC).
The others were Rev. Cyril Fayose (General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana), Apostle A.N.Y. Kumi-Larbi (General Secretary, The Church of Pentecost), Apostle Eric Kingsley Darko (Vice President, Council for Independent Churches) and Apostle Samuel Antwi (Executive Council Member of The Church of Pentecost and Former GPCC General Secretary).
The delegation also included ministers from The Church of Pentecost, Apostolic Church- Ghana and the Deeper Life Bible Church.
“The Beauty of Nature”
As part of the tour, the team made a quick stop at Boadua to pay a courtesy call on Osabarima Oware Asare Pronko III, the Chief of Apinamang, one of the towns in the Eastern Region of Ghana adversely affected by the activities of illegal mining.
Nana Asare Pronko, a passionate environmentalist, and his elders received the team at his eco-tourism resort and wildlife reserve, which he had deliberately (albeit ironical) named “The Beauty of Nature.”
The chief admitted that illegal mining is prevalent in his community and lamented about how the non-scientific approach of the miners is destroying vegetation and waterbodies.
“They do not even fill the mining pits after they are done, and this makes it difficult to reclaim the land for productive use. I have done everything but to no avail. I am now helpless!” he said.
The chief commended the religious leaders for undertaking a good initiative to help in the fight against galamsey and advised them not to allow anyone to discourage or intimidate them. He also pledged his support towards fighting the environmental menace.
“Why should we allow this (illegal mining) to go on? If other chiefs are part of it then not me – I refuse to be part of this!” he said.
Nana Pronko also gave the team a tour around his ecotourism park and touted his personal efforts in preserving the environment for posterity.
Apinamang Galamsey Site
At Apinamang, the delegation visited an active illegal mining site where they were met with abandoned pits, muddy water (polluted) and destroyed cocoa farm lands. The sorry state of the land and sheer level of devastation ignited deep emotions from the team who soon began to sing patriotic songs.
Addressing the press, Bishop Dr. Paul Boafo reminded Christians in Ghana about the duty they have to take care of God’s creation and ensure that people living on the earth prosper.
He called on all stakeholders (chiefs, government, church, institution etc.) to come on board in order to seek a non-partisan and lasting solution to the galamsey endemic.
“This is a collective fight, and all Ghanaians should come on board and let’s fight galamsey. We need to adopt a non-partisan approach in dealing with this problem, just as we did with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rev. Paul Frimpong, on his part, called on all responsible governmental agencies to rise and act in order to save the dire situation.
“My heart is burning. This is an absolute disaster and disgrace to the country. We must not entertain any political party that supports galamsey,” he said.
Father Dieudonne Davor, who represented the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, at the tour, said that the alarming rate of the destruction calls for an urgent action, and therefore, reiterated that government must not relent in its effort to clamp down on the activities of illegal miners.
Dr. George Manful, an environmentalist, retired diplomat and Environmental advisor to the Assemblies of God Church, expressed disbelief at the unimaginable proportions of destruction caused by the activities of illegal miners, describing it as “environmental rape.”
“I have followed the issue of galamsey for quite a long time. Formerly, the perpetuators used to mine with pickaxes, now they are using excavators! This tells how much the practice has escalated,” he said.
“A Complex Problem”
Apostle Eric Nyamekye bemoaned the lack of political will in the fight against the galamsey threat.
“We have all the environmental laws on paper, what we lack is the will to enforce them. Leaders must lead, they must enforce laws otherwise human beings, by their nature, will always go way ward,” he stated.
He said that the complex nature of the issue calls for a multifaceted approach in coming up with an effective intervention to address illegal mining in the country.
He, however, stated that “Galamsey is a human problem so human beings can solve it. We should not leave to the politicians; all stakeholders must come together to fix it.
Mother of five loses her land
The delegation ended their tour at the house of 45-year-old Joyce Worwonyo. Joyce, a member of the Miremire Assembly of the Apinamang District of The Church of Pentecost is a victim of galamsey operation.
The mother of five is being ejected from her house after the landowner sold it to galamseyers.
According to her, the miners, who have warned her severally to evacuate the land, have destroyed her cocoa farm in just four months after beginning their operations. The activities of the miners had left a huge pit close to her house, thus endangering the lives of her relatives.
Petitioning the President
In a letter issued last Monday by Dr. Cyril Fayose, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), the Christian ecumenical bodies expressed their intent to petition the government to swiftly intervene to end the destruction of all the country’s forest reserves and water bodies by the activities of illegal mining.
Ahead of the petitioning, the Christian leaders would address a press conference at the Assemblies of God Church Head Office at Osu in Accra, to remind Ghanaians of their mandate to keep the environment and be responsible stewards of same (Genesis 2:15).
The Galamsey Menace
Galamsey has become a topical issue in Ghana in recent months following a resurgence in news reports on its continued negative impact on the environment, particularly the country’s water bodies.
The Ghana Water Company Limited has said that continuous destruction of water bodies through illegal mining is increasing the cost of water due to the rising cost of aluminum sulphate used for the treatment.