Some residents of the Ntroboso community in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region whose properties were accidentally destroyed during an operation by officers of Operation Halt II may be compensated “subject to the final investigation report by the government,” the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr George Mireku Duker said on 31st March during a working visit to the community.
The Member of Parliament for the Tarkwa-Nsuaem constituency and the deputy minister in charge of mines was in Ntoboroso to gain first-hand information about the 23rd February operation that saw the officers set ablaze an undisclosed number of excavators at illegal mining sites. But the operation spilled over, allegedly witnessing the burning of two houses according to some residents.
The Central Command of the Ghana Armed Forces in a press briefing on 24th February revealed it had “commenced investigations” into the allegations.
“One of our teams deployed at Ntobroso at the Atwima Mponua district sighted four excavators which have been used for massive destruction on the River Offin. These excavators were moved and parked close by the river, which is also close to the settlement. Two of the excavators were set ablaze, but tragically a close-by house which was being used by the illegal miners as fuel storage to supply fuel for the excavators caught fire,” the General Command Officer of the Central Command, Brigadier General Joseph Aphour explained.
Though the house was quite far from the burning excavators, fuel spillage from the house to the excavators also caught fire, causing the fire to travel to the house,” he added.
Mr Duker was visibly shocked at the impact of illegal mining on the Offin River. In a passionate appeal to the chiefs and elders, he rallied for support to fight the menace, disclosing that government will scale up its anti-galamsey operations including ridding the River Offin of all mining equipment, particularly the Chan fa.
“Government is ready to support the man who lost properties in the incident,” he revealed.
Mr Duker announced that a community concession has been secured by the Member of Parliament for the area, Mr Isaac Asiamah with operations expected to kick in by the close of April.
“The government will also provide a new gold catcher for responsible and sustainable mining to take place.,” he assured residents who had gathered to receive some news from the government after a deafening silence.
Mr Duker wants community dwellers to view the onslaught on illegal-small scale mining as a measure to protect the country’s resources and grow the industry and not as an attack on livelihoods.
His visit also saw him inaugurating the Atwima Mponua District Mining Committee with a call on the members of the community to be vigilant and firm in dealing with mining issues in the district including “dealing decisively with any person or institution who flouts the rules governing mining in the country.”
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