Mr Ebenezer Appiah-Sampong, Deputy Executive Director of EPA

The Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Ebenezer Appiah-Sampong has stressed that environmental management is the duty of the entire citizenry and not work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alone.

He said people at the district levels and in all communities would all have to be vigilant because they cannot rely on the military Task Force alone to monitor every water body in the country.

Those living close to these water resources, he said, have a responsibility to protect the rivers and even where they cannot do anything else, they should report those destroying the water sources.

Speaking in an interview at the sidelines of a three-day workshop on the disturbing news of the return of illegal miners on the River Ankobrah, which has completely muddied its waters, Mr Appiah-Sampong said it is a worrying development because it takes a lot of effort to address these issues.

The workshop was organised by the EPA for some members of the Parliamentary Press Corps on the theme: “Persuasive and Responsive Environmental Reporting”.

Mr Appiah-Sampong said for the destruction to resume just after the military taskforce has helped to reduce the activities of galamseyers is distressing in view of the fact that these water bodies are critical for many communities and said there is the need to take the necessary steps to address the problem.

According to him, government did not let its guard down after the minimal success chalked by the task force on illegal mining but admitted there was a bit of push back on the effort, which people have taken advantage of.

“Now the challenge is our ability to go back and address the issue and be vigilant. That is what I think we should do at all levels, not just for the Taskforce alone,” he said.

Mr. Mr Appiah-Sampong stated that the effect of illegal mining is quite visible with the water bodies turning brown.

He stated that the selfish drive for profit or for some illegal money is what is accounting for the current situation.

“As I said, we all have to be in it. We cannot push it on one person or one small group to do this. We as a society and as a community need to do our part.

“Government is not saying we should not mine but we can do it in a more responsible manner.

“There are other areas where you can mine and the impact will be minimal. But if you go on the water and destroy it, even getting it to recover is another job by itself”, he added.

Mr. Mr Appiah-Sampong observed that finding a lasting solution to the problem requires a multi-sectoral approach because it is not one size fits all.

According to him, there are several interventions that are needed, and that using the military is just one way because compliance and enforcement are major components.

He said it is also important to look at the issues of alternative livelihood of the people who engaged in the illegal mining.

“You have to look at various aspects of the institutional systems, the capacities all the way down to the community level. The way we live, some of the laws have to be looked at to ensure that this activity is put on a sustainable path but it will take time,” he added.

He noted that present responses have been critical because it puts the country on a certain position as the government begins to introduce some of the additional measures to curb the galamsey scourge.