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Mills Visits Flood Victims In E/R...Furious At Galamsey Operators   
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President Atta Mills has expressed fury over the activities of illegal miners, popularly known as galamsey operators, which he blamed for aggravating the flood situation in some parts of the country.

Some districts in the Volta and Eastern regions have ravaged by floods that have so far claimed five lives, submerged several communities, destroyed farm lands and displaced over 5,000 people.

Touring the flood hit areas, President Mills told residents of Akim Oda Zongo in the Eastern Region, Monday, that the lack of concerted efforts to curb galamsey activities in the country has caused serious calamities on innocent people.

“When we started talking about the harmful effect of galamsey, there were people who did not appreciate it” noting that the raging flood is “a practical demonstration of the harmful effects of galamsey. [Hoping] we will therefore get the cooperation of the people.”

Eastern Regional Minister Dr Kwesi Apea–Kubi was equally incensed by the activities of the illegal miners and advocated that law on their activities should be amended and made more stringent for those who flagrantly abused it.

He said the $200 fine imposed on their operations is not punitive and deterrent enough.

The Minister who was briefing the president on his arrival asked that the issue of illegal mining is tackled “seriously” and made non-partisan.

“We need to tighten the law, in terms of enforcement, and also punishment. Currently as it stands, a person who is taken to court for illegal mining is fined $200.”

Dr Apea-Kubi was not happy that offenders are made to pay what in his view a meager amount, and even more worrying to him was the fact that the miners’ equipment are not confiscated, but are allowed to go away with them.

He said the situation has created an unhealthy cycle where authorities arrest and prosecute the miners, but the next day, they return to resume the illegal activities.

Explaining further, he said the miners failed to properly dispose of sand dug whiles searching for the minerals. The sand, he said, are then carried by rains to silt rivers, preventing free flow of water.

He stressed that the floods caused by torrential rains resulting in rivers, especially River Birim, breaking their banks was some of the clear “effects of galamsey”.

He also appealed to the media to avoid playing politics with the situation.

Meanwhile, Eastern Regional NADMO coordinator Ransford Owusu Boakye told Joy News seven districts have been affected by the floods so far.

Mr. Owusu Boakye warned that the Central Region could also experience some flooding if the situation in the Eastern Region is not addressed immediately.
Source: Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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