The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says one of the surest ways to permanently tackle the illegal mining menace, lies in finding alternative livelihoods for those engaged in the activity.
The agency believes that once these illegal miners find decent jobs, they would back down on the illegal activity, and that would go a long way in curtailing the menace.
The fight against illegal mining appears to have been a difficult task for successive governments.
Aside from denying the government revenue from minerals, forest reserves, water bodies, and in some cases farmlands, have been severely destroyed through this illegal activity.
While successive governments have usually been driven by the threat to the environment to fight the menace, those engaged in it usually use the lack of jobs or unemployment as their excuses, insisting that their livelihoods would be taken away if they stop mining.
“The reason I used to go there is that I have no other business doing, I have no other work doing. If I don’t go there, where will I get money?,” Kaba Lambert, a man who has worked as an illegal miner said to Citi News.
While successive governments may have relaxed the rules over the period for the activity to persist, it has now become imperative to tackle it head-on, as it threatens to have far-reaching consequences on the country with water bodies and forest reserves severely affected.
After the deployment of its ‘Operation Vanguard’ which ended with very little impact, the incumbent government through another exercise, dubbed ‘Operation Halt’, is currently confiscating and burning all equipment allegedly used by illegal miners particularly close to water bodies and in forest reserves.
Nonetheless, the country is divided over this approach of burning the seized equipment, as against the approach stipulated in the country’s Minerals and Mining Act, Act, 995.
Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Henry Kokofu, believes providing alternative livelihoods for people at the lower level of illegal mining is a more effective way to win the fight.
“Our investigation and a little of research have revealed that most of them are in the trade or in the business of offering those services much against their very will so in the absence of opportunities, they end up in that category.”