The people of Bepotintin, near Ashanti Bekwiare, must have been relieved, following the arrest of the Chinese-born ‘galamsey’ or illegal mining operator,
Aisha Huang, whose area of operation included their farmlands. They must be relieved because the continuous vandalising of their cocoa farms has ceased. But their relief must be short lived, because their once lucrative cocoa farms are no more and, in its place, are lost livelihoods, degraded farm lands and destroyed water bodies.
In the words of Civic Response’s Albert Katako, who visited the area recently, “the worst is yet to come, because the cumulative impacts of hazardous chemicals used in mining, will begin to manifest later in the health of the people, in about five years from now”.
It is for this reason, among others, that participants at a debate event a fortnight ago in Accra on irresponsible mining, called for a one year moratorium on illegal mining, within the short-term. This is to allow for space for broadened discussions on the subject and to define long-term mutually-beneficial and appropriate solutions.