Essiama — Operation Vanguard, the task force tasked to fight illegal mining, has arrested four illegal small-scale miners at Esiamain the Ellembelle District of the Western Region.
The team, led by Head of the Tarkwa office of the Operation Vanguard, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nana Asomaning, swooped on the hideouts of the suspects inthe forest along the Esiama highway.
He told journalists the team could work effectively only when people volunteer information and, therefore, urged the communities to help in the fight against illegal mining.
The galamseyers, he said, wielded cutlasses and other implements which made encounter with them deadly.
"The destruction of water bodies and lands was becoming a national security threat, [and this] must be understood, appreciated for the clamp-down to be done through collective efforts of the citizenry," the Head of Operation Vanguard added.
Meanwhile, the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, on Wednesday, led a team from Operation Vanguard to conduct an exercise on River Tano at Samreboi in the Amenfi West District.
Sixteen excavators were seized and handed over tothe Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, according to official reports from the Regional Security Council(REGSEC).
The operation, dubbed 'Operation Clean Water Bodies', was aimed at stopping activities ofillegal miners on Ghana's water bodies.
The operation uncovered that the illegal miners used huge excavators to excavate alarge expanse of land and also re-channel the course of River Tano to a galamesy site at Samreboi.
Again, they had degraded water courses and destroyed trees serving as forest cover in the Samreboi environment. Another feature of the galamseyers was that they had created makeshift domes to facilitate their operations.
Mr Darko-Mensah indicated that the exercise would continue "until we have clean water bodies in the region."
He charged the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to ensure sanity in the system for the operation to be successful.
Earlier, on a tour with the Sanitation and Water Resources Minister at Bonsa River on Tuesday, to assess the impact of illegal mining on the river, he warned chiefs involved in illegal mining to backoff before the security agencies clamp down on them.
Mr Darko-Mensah disclosed that investigations conducted by REGSECrevealed that some chiefs were deeply involved in galamsey activities.
Most of illegal miners have the support of chiefs, which makes it difficult to win the fight against galamsey, he noted.
"There is an Akan adage which says, 'if you are driving away the chickens and they are not leaving, it simply means the mother is hiding around', so any chief involved or aiding illegal miners won't be spared," he stressed