President John Evans Atta Mills has declared the government’s determination to flush out illegal gold miners (galamsey operators) from mining communities in the country.
He said the activities of the galamsey operators, who used dangerous chemicals such as cyanide, had, for some time now, polluted sources of drinking water, especially the Birim River in the Akyem Abuakwa area, and caused incalculable damage to the environment. The President gave the assurance when he addressed a colourful durbar of the chiefs and people of Akyem Abuakwa to mark the 10th anniversary of the installation of the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, at Kyebi last Saturday.
The event was also graced by dignitaries such as the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo; the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2000 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; some ministers of state, Members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic community, district chief executives, the Wurunaba, Naa Prof John S. Nabila, who is also the President of the National House of Chiefs, and other traditional rulers from different parts of the country.
According to President Mills, he had heard a lot about steps being taken by the Okyenhene to safeguard the environment, especially flushing out illegal miners whose activities had polluted sources of drinking water in the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, adding that his administration would go all out to support the Okyenhene to flush out the illegal miners.
That, according to the President, would make it possible for the people in the area to have good drinking water. He, therefore, called on the “galamsey” operators to move out or regularise their activities so that they could go about their duties in such a way that would not pollute sources of drinking water in the area.
“I am aware that the Okyenhene and the Eastern Regional Minister had already taken steps to stop the illegal miners from polluting the water bodies and I am giving my full support because the illegal miners are poisoning the water and also destroying the environment,” President Mills stated.
He praised the Okyenhene for his numerous initiatives that would not benefit only Okyeman but the country as a whole. The Okyenhene enumerated a number of projects and programmes that he had undertaken or were being executed to alleviate poverty and improve the lot of not only Akyems but all Ghanaians. These included the establishment of a university at Bunso, the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies, that would start admitting students next January; the setting up of a foundation to check environmental degradation; a crusade against HIV/AIDS, as well as making parents to live up to their responsibility of educating their children.
“My utmost concern is about the environment and the need for parents to live up to their responsibility in educating their children because I do not understand why parents refuse to cater for the educational needs of their children, although they have the means,” Osagyefuo Ofori Panin said.
The Okyenhene, who called on the government to continue to provide good schools in the rural areas and improve the conditions of service of teachers so that they would put up their best in the classrooms, called for punitive measures to be instituted against parents who neglected their children’s education.
With regard to disputes associated with chieftaincy, family and land in the area, he said measures were being put in place to resolve them and expressed the hope that those disputes would be reduced to the barest minimum in the next decade. Osagyefuo Ofori Panin expressed his appreciation to his wife and all the divisional and sub-chiefs of Akyem Abuakwa for supporting him over the past 10 years and called on the chiefs to unite to advance the cause of Okyeman and Ghana in general.
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