The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament is pushing for the security agencies to be given the power to shoot those involved in illegal mining popularly called ‘galamsey’.
Joseph Osei Owusu says this is the only way to deter criminals from engaging in that act.
He was contributing to a statement on the Floor of Parliament by Kumbugu legislator, Ras Mubarak, who condemned the recent burning of trucks in his constituency by the military.
“Extreme behaviour must be met with an extreme response. We are dealing with people who are determined at every point to make their money without regards what they are doing to the environment,” he said.
According to him, the total cost of equipment destroyed cannot be compared with the lives that will negatively be affected by their illegal operations.
His comment is in reaction to the torching of least 14 tipper trucks and an excavator by a crack team of military personnel after several warnings to sand winners to stop their illegal activity close to the Dalun river.
Officials of the Ghana Water Company had raised concerns about the continuous pollution of the Dalun river due to the activities of sand winners.
The Northern region relies heavily on dams and rivers for their water supplies but most of these dams and rivers usually dry up in the dry season.
Many communities depend on the Dalun river for water but activities of sand winners have always threatened the safety of the river.
An anti-galamsey taskforce made up of police and military named Operation Vanguard was launched last year to fight the activities of ‘galamseyers’ and to protect the environment.
But it has been a big challenge as many people have been arrested on site engaging in such activities even in the face of the ban.
The Bekwai MP and Deputy Speaker, who is obviously fed-up with the recalcitrant nature of the illegal miners said if he had his own way, he would have enacted a law that will empower the military to shoot such people on sight.
“Sometimes we need to be strong on wrongdoers. We are pampering wrongdoers in this country too much…and they are not many anyway.
“Mr Speaker, we should stand by the military, operation Vanguard and we should all stand together to ensure that our water bodies are clean and safe,” he added.
But the Second Deputy Speaker Alban Bagbin disagrees. He believes extreme measures is not the way to go in the fight against illegal mining.
“It is only the military that is trained in war situations to shoot to kill, one man, one bullet…I don’t think we are at that stage now…I don’t support any Ghanaian killing any Ghanaian…,” he said.
He suggested persuasion, dialogue with the illegal miners and a concerted national effort to stop the menace.