“These excavators that are being used for the illegal mining are very expensive and the people in the villages cannot afford them, so you can clearly see there are some rich and powerful behind them and we need to unmask those people.”
“There are people who have brought about 1,000 excavators into this country. How many roads are we building? We need to find out who these people are and expose them, because until we are able to expose them we will not resolve the problem,” he added.
Mr Ashigbey made the call at a meeting of the Editors Forum in Accra last Wednesday to share experiences and ideas about the media campaign so far.
He said the coalition had so far organised three town hall meetings at Manso Nkwanta in the Ashanti Region, Dunkwa in the Central Region, and Kyebi in the Eastern Region, with the fourth town hall meeting set to come off on September 29 at Wassa Akropong in the Western Region.
He said the feedback from those three areas had so far been positive, as the people were educated on the harm that they were bringing upon themselves through the galamsey activities.
“The Council for Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR) did some research on the amount of poisoning in these communities and when we shared it with them, the militancy in them died down as they saw that they were actually killing themselves,” he said.
He said the coalition, therefore, planned to organise the town hall meetings in all the eight mining regions in the country.
“We have to make sure we follow through till we begin to see that things are changing. We have just started and the problem has not yet been solved. Just being on radio, TV and in print will not solve the problem as we need to engage the people where the galamsey is happening,” he stated.
“Our objective is to ensure that we bring galamsey to an end and see to the restoration of our water bodies, and to name and shame and push for jail terms,” he added.
He said the coalition was organising the town hall meetings with help from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
Mr Ashigbey said the coalition had so far been supported by the Ministry of Information and other institutions such as the Ghana Insurers Association, GRIDCO, Goil, and Ernst and Young.
He said Star Ghana had also agreed to support the activities of the coalition with more than GH¢400,000.
“We will account for every money that has been given to us and publish the accounts in the papers,” he said.
The Convenor said this month’s ‘Red Friday’ would be dedicated to putting pressure on the Attorney- General (AG) and the Chief Justice (CJ) to ensure that the punishment for indulging in galamsay activities was more deterrent.
“The very first people arrested by the Operation Vanguard and convicted were fined just GH¢2,400 and there was no custodial sentence. These miners, with the money they have, GH¢2,400 will not serve as a deterrent to them.
“We need the A-G to appeal these cases. There should be more severe punishment. We are also appealing to the CJ that the sentences should be deterrent enough,” he said.
The Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCGL), the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) and other media partners such as the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), the Private Newspaper Publishers Association (PRINPAG), the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), and the News Times Corporation formed the coalition to sensitise the public to the galamsey menace and seek support to flush out the illegal miners.
The campaign is meant to be a wake-up call to the harm being caused to water bodies and the vegetation by the illegal miners.
The coalition has a steering committee that comprises, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, the Managing Director of the GCGL; Mr Akwasi Agyeman, former President of GIBA; Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG); Dr Kwame Akuffo Anoff-Ntow, the Director-General of the GBC; Ms Carol Annang, the Managing Director of the New Times Corporation; Mr Affail Monney, the President of the GJA, and a representative of the Community Radio Network, Mr Kofi Larweh.