Nsuta-Prestea accident compels gov’t to step up galamsey fight; Military to be deployed
The Government is set to deploy the military to illegal mining areas as it begins a new chapter in the war against the menace.
The move by the government follows the recent collapse of a mining pit in Prestea-Nsuta in the Western Region that has trapped at least 14 illegal miners.
The trapped miners are feared dead after a 72-hour rescue effort has not yielded little results.
According to Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Benito Owusu-Bio, the deployment of the military has become necessary to prevent a recurrence of Sunday’s tragedy.
Sunday’s collapse is the latest in many mining disasters that have been recorded in the past.
"It is a tight hole that they are in there. Because of this, it is making very difficult to get to where they are. As we speak now, we have been able to bring out one which tells us that we are getting close to them," the Deputy Minister explains.
He said rescuers are having to use their hands and other small tools because of the nature of the illegal mining pit.
"We cannot use machines because [the pit] was not properly engineered," he said.
He said preliminary investigations show that the pit caved in because the illegal miners blasted dynamites close to the pit while mining was still ongoing.
"They had no recourse to safety regulations," he fumed.
Rescue efforts have been intensified to get to the trapped miners that are trapped in the 80-feet high pit.
"With the help of the Minerals Commission, we know where all the bedrocks are being mined...I think it is about time the Military task force comes in. Because as they come in, they will come and beef up the work that we are doing and with their support, we will be able to locate these people and flush them out,' he said.
There is currently a ban on small-scale mining as part of efforts to end illegal mining and its degrading effects on the environment.
Illegal mining activities have destroyed water bodies and ecosystems in mining communities in the Ashanti, Western, Eastern and Volta Region.
"When we started we didn’t want to throw in all our arsenals. We wanted to do what was important – which is sensitisation and educating the people especially with the help of the media and that has worked tremendously," the Deputy Minister said, emphasising the need to bring the military on board now.
Meanwhile, Best FM’s Kojo Fletcher told Joy News Wednesday morning that rescuers are giving up hope of finding any more survivors in the tragedy.