A Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) researcher, Dr. Albert Kobina Mensah, has argued against the use of the military in the fight against illegal mining amid renewed attention to the problem.
Speaking on The Big Issue on Citi TV, Dr. Mensah argued that deploying the military will not address the root causes of illegal mining.
He noted political and economic factors as being key drivers of illegal mining.
“All these factors are not being dealt with, with the use of the military because the use of the military is a jackboot approach.”
“The use of the military is a command and control strategy which involves the use of force,” Dr. Mensah also noted.
In addition, the researcher said using the military “gives little room for participation of the very people affected in the sector.”
He stressed that the “centralised approach to the management of natural resources may not work.”
Dr. Mensah explained further that developmental projects that don’t engage the people affected will bring conflict or result in white elephants.
The current military action against illegal mining is Operation Halt, which was launched in April 2021.
Operation Halt is made up of personnel from the Ghana Armed Forces with the mandate to remove all persons and mining equipment from water bodies and forest reserves in the country.
Over the period, the team worked around polluted rivers, such as, Pra, Offin, Ankobra, Birim and Ayensu, as well as forest reserves in the country.