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Operation Halt II team arrests 26 galamseyers at Patase



The Operation Halt II team on Monday arrested 26 suspects, found operating at an illegal mining site, popularly known as galamsey, and also engaging in other poor environmental practices, at Patase, Wassa Dunkwa, in the Wassa Amenfi East District of the Western Region.

The suspects, including four Togolese, were found engaging in illegal mining, sand winning and lumbering in defiance of government’s ban placed on these activities that continued to wreak havoc on the environment and water bodies, including River Tano.

The Ghana Armed Forces deployed soldiers of all ranks to begin the second phase of ‘Operation Halt’ to rid the country’s water bodies of illegal miners. It is aimed at removing all logistics and persons involved in illegal mining on water bodies.

The arrest of the 26 suspects followed an order by the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr George Mireku Duker, when he was accompanied by journalists and a team of “Operation HaltII” personnel aboard a Ghana Airforce aircraft to conduct an aerial assessment of ‘Operation Halt II, atWassaDunkwa.

The deputy minister also asked Kwasi Addae to produce a permit authorizing him to lumber at Patase.

“Send those suspects to the nearest Police station for prosecution. The law will be made to work to address the problem,” Mr. Duker instructed.

The operation led by General Officer Commanding, Southern Command, Brigadier General Michael Kwaku Amoah Ayisi and the Second-in-Command, Operation Halt 11, Lieutenant Colonel Harrison Dadzie, revealed an expanse area devasted by illegal mining atWassaDunkwa.

Aerial view of the site showed total destruction of the forest cover as the illegal miners had dug deep craters as big as three football fields with pools of stagnant water.

The galamseyers had also diverted the tributaries of River Tanoon, where they mounted ChanFan machines and generators to mine gold ore.

The long and labyrinthine river water, which looked dirty, bleak, brown and polluted, crisscrossed makeshift houses built along the river banks.

Additionally, trees in the rich, green and virgin forest had been felled to pave the way for illegal gold mining, posing a danger to farmers.

Soon as the team disembarked, they encountered a tipper truck at WassaDunkwa loaded with sand, and Mr Duker ordered the sand should be offloaded.

He condemned the uncontrolled sand winning at illegal mining sites, the galamsey site, where deep holes had been dug to aggravate the situation, and asked whether they would drink the very water they destroyed.

Mr. Duker told the suspects, “Drink the water; now you are afraid. You must stop this bad behaviour. You are destroying this beautiful country, the virgin environment, and the fish in the rivers. Why do you win sand and destroy the water bodies? If our forebearers had done these, we wouldn’t have come to meet these valuable national assets.”

Lt. Col. Dadzie noted that the suspects, who could not name the owner of the WassaDunkwa site, were the same people who win sand and fell lumber in the area and wondered how four Togolese found their way to Ghana.

Meanwhile, Brig. General Amoah-Ayisi has said that 11 offenders have been prosecuted and jailed so far.



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