THE UNINTENDED TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES OF GALAMSEY
THE TRAGIC UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF GALAMSEY
By CAMERON DUODU
IF YOU type the words, “galamsey+pit +death into the GOOGLE search engine, you will get “About 39,200 results in 0.34 seconds!”
Among the first set of results on the screen will be:
#14 feared dead in Galamsey pit at Prestea –/2017/07/03/14;
.#Video: Final year student drowns in ‘galamsey’ pit – Feb 23, 2018;
Feb 23, 2018 – A 20-year-old final year student of Osino Presbyteria Senior High School;
#2 dead, 11 others trapped in galamsey pit collapse – Jul 24, 2017 ;
#Nsuta galamsey pit covered – 22 feared dead underground Jul 8, 2017;
#More Deaths Recorded After Galamsey Pit Caved In Jul 4, 2017 ;
#PHOTOS: 4 dead, 15 trapped in galamsey pit Jul 24, 2017;
#W/R: 14 people feared dead in galamsey pit collapse – 2017/07/03;
#The wife of a blind man has died falling in a galamsey pit and
#Apr 27, 2017 – Patricia Morrison, seamstress, 35, died as she plunged into an illegal mining (galamsey) pit while driving a taxi cab.
The details of some of the disasters reported in the stories are extremely pathetic:
a “final year student” dies; (what would the parents who had spent so much money on his education, feel?); the wife of “a blind man killed”: (who would provide for the bind man, now that his wife had died?); a seamstress is killed whilst driving “in a taxi cab” (a person cannot even travel safely from on the road leading from one part of his/her town to another?) Cripes! What has Ghana become?
A statistician, would be able to work out the frequency of these galamsey-related deaths, the social class from which the victims are drawn ; and the economic consequences of the accidents on the localities where they occur.
Which begs the question: did the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) who passed a law legalising “small-scale mining” (PNDCL 218) in 1989, commission a study into the potential consequences of “small-scale mining”, before enacting the law? Was it advised by the technocrats in the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, who drew up the memorandum to the bill and its provisions, alert their political bosses to the far-reaching changes to the landscape and the environment that would occur in rural Ghana as a result of the legalisation of “small-scale mining”? Were there no scientifically-trained personnel (obviously all qualified on paper!) who could envision scenarios and warn their political masters of their consequences)?
How I wish there were some patriotic ex-PNDC Government members willing to break the culture of silence and tell us about the arguments that arose at the time (if any); and how they were – or were not – resolved, and why. Who were those lobbying for the passing of PNDCL 218? Did they resort to bribery? Because I don’t think it is conceivable that they would ALL just sit down and connive at the enactment of a law that has led to the almost total destruction of the water-bodies and farmlands of their own Motherland. Ghana has a history of principled people bing ready to give up office rather than compromise their consciences. Why did such a thing not occur over the issue of PNDCL 218?
The thing is that laws are social instruments of great power that can change the lives of people, even to the extent of causing their deaths. This applies, whether the laws are enacted “in good faith” – or not. Good faith includes the all-important issue of trying to solve the problem of unemployment amongst the youth. But you don’t walk blindly into such a social canker as youth unemployment. You don’t solve such a problem by giving young people guns to go and commit armed robbery en masse!
Alas, the cold facts are that PNDCL 218 has been the cause of too many tragic incidents related to galamsey, to be glibly overlooked. I acknowledge that the PNDC presumably wanted to enable Ghanaians to benefit from the country’s mineral deposits (most of which had been put in hock in “concessions” granted to foreign-owned companies.)
But the PNDC knew the corrupt and selfish and undisciplined nature of some Ghanaians. The PNDC had seen Ghanaians engage in kalabule. The PNDC had forfeited the assets of enterprises and businessmen who had flouted the country’s laws. Suddenly, this same PNDC was entrusting Ghanaians with an endeavour that had so many hidden dangers. The question is: why? Let them tell us, please.
Yes – good intentions can bring bad outcomes. We have changed our currency with good intentions. The outcome wasn’t so good. We have restricted people from having more than a certain amount of money in their bank balances. That made people want to out their money into goods and the result was hyper-inflation and money rotting under mattresses. We should have learnt, by now, that laws must never be enacted as an emotional response to complex situations.
Mining of all types and engaged in at different scales has long been recognised as one of the most destructive enterprises on Planet Earth’s beautiful gifts to humans. Strict regulations have, of course, been made to govern mining activities throughout the world.
But the lust for profit has always been so overwhelming in almost all societies that a cat-and-mouse game is constantly being played between nations and mining companies. Zambia; Nigeria; South Africa; Latin America; the Caribbean; Alaska; Australia – examples of social and environmental devastation caused by mining exist in these and scores of other nations.
I am going to end this article with a story that encapsulates everything I have said earier. There is a strong chance that the existence of the galamsey pits gave the alleged offender the horrendous idea that he could get away with his crime by dumping the bodies of his victims in a galamsey pit. Whatever you think, please consider the inescapable conclusion that the emotional approach to galamsey has been given a long enough rope in this country, and that it is time now for us to recognise that:
galamsey is an unmitigated, calamitous disaster that must be resolutely rooted out by all the good people who have the interest of Ghana and its people – including those not yet born – at heart.
Those who want to acquiesce in the destruction of the country – either for selfish or political reasons, or both – must not be allowed to pretend that 39,000 entries about galamsey accidents on GOOGLE have, somehow, nothing to do with “small-scale mining”, which, to them, is NOT galamsey!
Man Killed Lover And Son And Dumped Their Remains In Galamsey Pit
[By] Nana Appiah, Kumasi
The people of Manso Edubiaso in the Amansie West district of Ashanti were thrown into a melancholic mood on Wednesday [9May 2018] when the body of a young woman, together with [that of] her four year old son, was found in an abandoned pit.
A group of young men.. contracted to enter the deep pit, (which had been abandoned by illegal miners several months ago) to bring out the corpses, came out unable to breathe well, due to the decomposing [state of the corpses]….
The group went there in the company of the District Chief Executive of the area …a team of policemen…and the suspected murderer, Kwame Tuffuor, also known as Kwame Brodo. [He] is suspected to have killed the young woman, who is very [well-known] in the town, due to her retarded mental state.
The 42-year-old man admitted during interrogation by the police that he [had been] having an amorous affair with the lady and got her pregnant. In order to forestall the shame he would encounter when the news broke out – and also to prevent the news from reaching his wife – he decided to kill the young woman and dump her [body] in the [galamsey pit].
When the two bodies were brought out, it was realized that the lady was naked, raising suspicions that he might have had sex with her, even in her dead state, before dumping her, tied strongly to her only son, in the pit.
But for the strong presence of the police, the youth of the area would have lynched him immediately, as they could not come to [terms] with the wickedness perpetrated by Kwame Brodo… He is [now] in police custody, [awaiting a court appearance].
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