Lead campaigner of the Media Coalition against illegal mining, Ken Ashigbey has raised concerns over the circumstances that led to the controversial disappearance of excavators and other seized equipment from illegal miners in the country.
He believes that the inability of the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, to even provide the exact number of the missing excavators is a clear indication of his [the Minister] total loss of control of his core mandate.
On the Point of View on Wednesday, the media advocate in the fight against illegal mining was worried and expressed regret at the current turn of events.
Mr. Ashigbey, therefore, implored the government to tackle the issue with the highest form of seriousness and take decisive steps to prove its commitment to settle the saga.
“My pain is hearing the Chairman of the Inter-ministerial committee say that the excavators are missing. He said it in a way suggesting that nothing else was being done. It had to take a statement that was issued before we realized that all these actions were being taken. The very roadmap on illegal mining had mentioned that excavators were going to be registered, carted and tagged so for me, the inter-ministerial committee should take the issue of the missing excavators very seriously. The Minister did not even tell us what the number of the missing excavators was so definitely for me, I realized at that point that, we were missing the plot.”
Missing excavators and arrest
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng disclosed recently that most of the excavators that were seized from illegal miners had vanished.
He subsequently petitioned the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service to investigate the suspended First Vice Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party, Horace Ekow Ewusi over his alleged involvement in the missing earth-moving equipment.
Ekow Ewusi was contracted by the government to cart excavators and other vehicles and pieces of equipment seized by Operation Vanguard to designated areas for safekeeping.
So far, six persons arrested over the disappearance of the missing equipment have been granted bail.
The six, including Ekow Ewusi, have been cautioned with the offence of stealing and abetment to stealing.
It will be recalled that at the peak of the fight against illegal mining between 2017 and 2018, about 500 earth-moving machines were seized by the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
The then sector Minister, John Peter Amewu who sanctioned the seizure directed them to be parked at the premises of the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).