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Pupils of Tarkwa University of Mines and Technology Basic School (UBAS) have protested against illegal mining activities by ‘galamsey’ operators on their school premises.

Joined by their teachers and some concerned citizens, the children marched through the principal streets of the town, wearing red bands, and carried placards. Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Don’t trade out lives for gold;’ Stop galamsey o our school premises now; ‘Galamsey operators, stop the boom! Boom! Under our school compound’ (referring to the sound of blasting). They presented a petition to the Municipal Chief Executive, Mrs. Christina Kobinah.
Mr. Ato Paintsil, the head teacher, presenting the petition on behalf of the school said the blasting of rocks on which the school had been built, was destroying the school building. He said the walls, pillars and the foundation of the buildings, especially, those of the nursery and kindergarten blocs had developed serious cracks.

The resolution said illegal mining had for years posed a serious threat to the school and numerous pleas by the school the authorities had been ignored. “We may not only lose the buildings and other properties in them but also lives, if nothing is done about the menace,” it said.

It disclosed that the management of the university had written to the authorities, including the Municipal Assembly and the law enforcement agencies, but no action had been taken.

It recalled that on August 3, 17 and October 7, the registrar of the university, Emmanuel K. Bedai, communicated those illegal acts to the Divisional Crime Officer of the Ghana Police Service and the Regional Police Command, and called for their intervention wit copies sent to the Municipal Assembly but there was no official acknowledgement of the letter.

Mr. Paintsil noted that efforts to prevent the school from collapsing was being intensified by the university and entreated the MCE to intervene and threatened to take the necessary steps to solve the problem their own way, if their demonstration yielded no results.
“We can no longer tolerate the indifference and silence of those we expect to be our partners in development. Indeed, lives of would be future leaders are at stake.”

The resolution stressed the need for collaboration between the university and the assembly as partners to bring development to the municipality.

Receiving the petition, Mrs. Kobinah gave the assurance that it would be forwarded to the President for the necessary action. Rebecca Dede Ako, a House Prefect of the school, told the Times that the impact of the blasting had affected their studies negatively, as it scared them and impeded their concentration, besides the danger it poses to their school buildings.

The Times on a visit to the school, observed that the kindergarten block had developed serious cracks, rendering its occupancy very risky. Meanwhile, the staff common room has been abandoned, due to dreadful fractures.

At the ‘galamsey’ site, the Times observed that the operation pit was just few metres away from the school. However, some galamsey operators at the pit denied the claim, citing a Parsey and his gang as those whose blasting activities were affecting the school buildings, “We only dig and wash here,” they added.

Effort by the Times to contact the Divisional Commander of the Ghana Police Service proved futile, at the time of going to the press.
Source: The Ghanaian Times/Ghana

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