Our western regional correspondent posted a story of illegal miners invading the Ghana Rubber Estate Limited’s (GREL) concession at Apemanin in the Ahanta West Municipality, and would ordinarily be treated as another illegal mining, or more popularly, galamsey story.
However, what struck us hard was the fact that government, through the One District, One Factory (1D1F) programme, supported GREL in constructing a new factory which was commissioned early this year.
Over 200 illegal miners, according to the report, have forcibly taken over the GREL concession which was planted with rubber in the 1960s.
According to an executive of GREL who spoke to our correspondent, rubber was replanted in 2010 which is currently being destroyed and could see the company lose more than €3.5million of investment over the next 30 years.
We must admit, the fervor with which this administration promised to tackle the galamsey menace has waned considerably even though the task force is still in place, doing what it can. Currently, the focus of government is containing the deadly COVID-19 virus which is understandable.
However, it does not mean the galamsey fight should be relegated to the backburner while we fight COVID-19. Government itself has pumped considerable amounts of money into the GREL under its 1D1F programme, hence, it cannot sit idly by while illegal miners invade and desecrate this promising enterprise.
If what the GREL official said is anything to go by, then it is imperative that the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation immediately prompt the task force to move in and disperse the illegal miners before the €3.5million investment is wasted, or lost.
The plantation, we learn, is supposed to provide the raw materials for the 1D1F factory but the illegal miners are destroying it.
We do not believe government will take lightly this invasion of the GREL concession since it is investments like these that provide employment opportunities for Ghanaians to take advantage of, and help the state reduce the high unemployment rate among the country’s youth.
While condemning the activities of galamsey, it is also recognized that it is because of the acute unemployment situation among the country’s youth why they are emboldened to undertake such nefarious activities all in a bid to keep body and soul together.
Hence, government should also create job opportunities for the youth to engage in so that they are not tempted to destroy the environment prospecting for gold.