Religious Leaders in the country have called for immediate ban on small-scale mining to prevent degradation and pollution of the environment.
According to the religious leaders, many groups or companies hide behind a legal licence to wreak havoc to the environment.
The religious leaders representing the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, Office of the National Chief Imam, Almadiyya Muslim Mission, Ghana, National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches, Council for Independent Churches and Para-Church Organisations, said at a press conference in Accra yesterday.
The statement of the press conference dubbed “Ecumenical Leaders Press Conference on Galamsey,” was jointly read by the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishop’s Conference, Most Reverend Philip Naameh, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu of the Office of the National Chief Imam, Right Reverend Professor Paul Frimpong-Manso, former General Superintendent of Assemblies of God, Ghana, and Emmanuel Baba Mahama of the Full Gospel Men’s Fellowship Ghana.
Describing galamsey as “ecological suicide,” the religious leaders called on the government to swiftly arrest and prosecute all those involved in galamsey activities in the country.
“We call for a national stakeholder’s dialogue under the auspices of religious leaders to dialogue with all political parties, mining technocrats, the media, traditional leaders and all stakeholders to commit to a non-partisan national strategy to sustainably deal with the canker of galamsey,” they said.
They said the country environment was being degraded through galamsey and rivers and soil had been polluted with chemicals such as mercury, chlorine, and cyanide thereby killing aquatic life including fishes.
“Some women are reportedly being treated for increased cases of cervical and uterus cancers, including men and children being diagnosed with kidney diseases, the rate of still births on the high and annual average turbidity values of rivers and other fresh water bodies affected by galamsey activities is very alarming, ” the Religious Leaders said.
They claimed that the deleterious impacts on the country’s food and cash crops were so bad that some countries like Japan required extra testing of cocoa products before they could be accepted.
“Marine life, our livestock, birds, insects and game reserves all depend on drink and use these highly polluted waters also. Their meat and edible vegetation all end upon our dining tables. We have become living-dead-polluted-walking Ghanaians. We need to rise up and confront the situation to save our nation,” the religious leaders said.
They called on Ghanaians to stand up to the challenge and work to preserve the environment from the menace of galamsey and admonish opinion leaders and the youth in the communities to speak up and report illegal mining activities in their communities to the relevant authorities.
“We do appreciate President Akufo Addo’s call to end galamsey, but the facts of the results of his government’s efforts on the ground indicate that more can and ought to done. We believe that Parliamentarians, Ministers of State, Metropolitan, Municipal and District, Assembly and women and other government agents in the localities cannot claim ignorance of the people who are involved in galamsey and the places where these detestable acts are carried out,” they said.
The Religious Leaders called for a week of fasting and prayers to pray for change of hearts and God’s mercy upon the country for the destruction caused to the environment.
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“We give ultimatum to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives in the country to ensure that water bodies that have been polluted because of illegal mining activities within their sphere of governance are clean by June 30, 2023,” they said, warning that “Religious
Leaders in the country are ready to mobilise legal team to go to court on this matter and have MMDCEs who have allowed such menace in their jurisdiction to be removed from office.