A Media Coalition against illegal mining comprising major media organisations in the country was on Tuesday launched to wage a crusade against the menace.
The Coalition would collect one million signatures from Ghanaians and individuals interested in joining the fight against illegal mining, otherwise known as “galamsey”, and forward it to the presidency for radical action.
Mr. Kenneth Ashigbey, the Managing Director of the Graphic Communication Group Limited, said the failure to curb illegal mining in the country over the past decade was unfortunate and there was a need for urgent steps to stop it now.
He said the 1992 Constitution mandated the media to hold political leaders accountable.
He said however that, before they could do that, the media, which is the Fourth Estate of the Realm, must hold itself into account first by leading the fight against the menace.
Mr Ashigbey, also a Member of the Steering Committee of the Coalition, said the media was part of the leadership and that over the years it had not played its watchdog role effectively to end the menace.
He said the media had just been scratching the surface of the matter without delving deep to find lasting solutions to the problem adding that ‘‘if Ghana becomes extinct in the future, people will say the media was complicit in allowing this to happen because we benefited’’.
‘‘We must put positive pressure on the leadership so that they would not give us the excuse to do the right thing, ‘‘he said.
Mr. Ashigbey urged the media to mount pressure on traditional leaders, security agencies and all stakeholders that had the power to stop the practice by naming and shaming all accomplices.
‘‘The fight must be sustained until we can put a cup in Birim, Tano, Pra, Ankobra and Densu to drink again,’’ he said.
Mr. Ashigbey said the Coalition would work with all stakeholders including government officials, and civil society organisations to halt the menace.
Reverend Dr. Opuni Frimpong, the General Secretary of the Christian Council, called for attitudinal change from Ghanaians so as to make a meaningful impact in the fight against illegal mining.
‘‘Now that the water bodies have been polluted with cyanide, mercury and other poisonous chemicals, if care is not taken, Ghana will in the near future import water from outside, and even the churches will not get water to baptize people,’’ he said.
The Reverend Minister urged political leaders to show commitment to dealing with the matter once and for all, saying; ‘‘there must be responsible mining’’.
The Coalition included media partners such as the Graphic Communication Group Limited, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), the Ghanaian Times, the Ghana Journalists Association, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the Christian Council and PRIMPAG.
A 10-member steering committee was named to streamline the activities of the Coalition in order to ensure a sustained fight against illegal mining.
The other members include Reverend Dr. Opuni Frimpong, Mr Affail Monney, President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, GIBA, Madam Carol Annan, Managing Director of Ghanaian Times, Mr Samuel Arthur-Mensah, GIBA, and Mr Kofi Larwey from the Community Radio Network.
The meeting attracted high profile government officials including the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Kofi Adda, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, and the Minister of Information, Mr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, who pledged government’s commitment to support the Coalition in its campaign against illegal mining.
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(Via: CitiFM Online Ghana)