Koforidua — The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Eric Kwakye Darfour, has expressed worry over the destruction of cocoa farms in the Kwahu West Municipality, of the Eastern Region, by illegal miners, popularly known as 'galamseyers'.
According to him, 'galamseyers' have returned to parts of the region using new technologies in mining thereby destroying cocoa farms.
"What is quite worrying is that there is heavy involvement of foreign nationals, including Ivorians, Chinese, and Malians, who use technical device that is able to assist them identify the exact location of the mineral deposits," Mr Darfour revealed.
The Regional Minister, who was speaking at a meeting organised by the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, such activities were undermining investments made by the government to eradicate illegal mining in the country.
'It is also an obstacle to the President's vision of increasing the output of cocoa beans from 900,000 metric tonnes to 1.5 million metric tonnes, since large acres of cocoa farms are being destroyed," he said.
Mr Dafour said the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) visited the cocoa farms to evaluate the damage, adding "it is terrible how they have destroyed large acres of cocoa farms and have dug new pits to mine at other places on the farms."
The Eastern regional minister said that some roads in cocoa growing areas were funded by the Cocoa Fund, and that the destruction of the cocoa farms may have negative effect on the fund.
He called on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives to join the REGSEC to find innovative ways to clamp down on illegal miners.
The Municipal Chief Executive of Kwahu West Municipality, Mr Yaw Owusu Addo, said illegal mining was taking place in the area, and called on the law enforcers to help stop the practice.
"Even at Nso Nyame ye, a cocoa community, they have destroyed large acres of cocoa farms and this is worrying. I urge all stakeholders and law enforcing agencies to help us in stopping illegal mining," he stressed.
The Eastern Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr Feli Addo-Okyireh, said it was worrying that illegal miners have returned to their activities near river bodies in the region, specifically River Birem and River Densu.