Professor Ransford Gyampo of the Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, has said although the fight against illegal mining (galamsey) can never be romanticised given its pervasiveness, the burning of excavators simply because the previously seized ones got back to their owners, does not make sense.
“Why do you burn excavators when you need the same excavators to go reclaim the land that has been destroyed?
“Why do you burn excavators and later use taxpayers’ money to go procure new ones to reclaim destroyed lands?” Prof Gyampo quizzed.
According to Prof Gyampo, the explanation that the previously confiscated ones “flew away” like guinea fowls to their owners, “insults the intelligence of Ghanaians.”
“Who was placed in charge of those seized excavators? Who took inventory of those excavators seized? Why can’t we hold them accountable and responsible for the missing excavators? Who was arrested and prosecuted for the missing excavators? Why should our incompetence in dealing with those who supervised the ‘flying’ of the seized excavators back to their owners, lead to another senseless approach in dealing with the problem of illegal mining?” the political science lecturer asked.
In his view, “there is something wrong with our thinking and that’s why we still haven’t been able to develop, in spite of all the strategies for national development, implemented since independence, beginning from import substitution industrialisation, through the structural adjustment programme, application of political conditionality, the Lagos Plan of Action, the NEPAD, HIPC, MDGs, SDGs, to all the developing policy frameworks implemented since 1992.”
He noted that if the state that legally has monopoly over the deployment of coercive apparatus and instrument of force has been overly politicised to the extent that it cannot perform a minimum function of keeping seized excavators in safe custody for its own future use, and would have to resort to burning of these machines as a solution to illegal mining, then “we are worse than an acephalous society. We just do not have a state!”
Prof Gyampo, however, commended the zeal of the ministers of Lands and Defence in the fight against illegal mining.
He urged them to carry on with the fight warning, however, that the already caused harm of illegal mining, must not make them overly emotional.
“They must do a sober introspection and rethink their youthful exuberance that may have guided their zeal to instantly burn excavators, whether being used by legal or illegal miners,” Prof Gyampo said.
He further advised that the state must do its work in ensuring that the confiscated excavators are kept and used for future land reclamation adding that “burning them under flimsy and incompetent excuses, and going to buy same machines in future for land reclamation is indicative of our shallow thinking precocity.”