Ten illegal miners whose activities have caused massive destruction to the Oda River Forest Reserve in the Amansie Central District in the Ashanti Region, have been arrested.
The 10, made up of seven Ghanaian nationals and three Chinese nationals, were arrested in a three-day operation by the Bekwai Forest District of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission and the Rapid Response Teams drawn from four other forest districts.
The three-day operation which was undertaken between Wednesday and Friday (December 6 and 8, 2023), formed part of the ongoing efforts by the Forestry Commission to clamp down on illegal mining activities (galamsey) in forest reserves across the country.
The Executive Director of the FSD of the Forestry Commission, Hugh Brown, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic, said during the operation, it was discovered that the illegal miners were operating in seven compartments in the forest reserve, which is one of the designated red zones.
He said two Toyota Hilux pick-ups with registration numbers 1265 A and GT 7366-12 and other items being used by the illegal miners were seized during the operation. “In addition, 10 excavators, 19 fuel tanks, nine power plants, two chanfang machines, four motorbikes, five water pumping machines and seven wooden structures were demobilised,” he said.
Mr Brown said seven out of the 10 suspects – Michael Korsah, Basit Shizu, Amadu Musah, Prince Boakye, Amedodzi Kofi, Akwasi Adu and Shi Tiachao, who were arrested on Wednesday, December 6, were arraigned before the Bekwai Circuit court on December 7.
He said the remaining three – Bernard Sarkodie, Li Tauhai and Rao Shifa who were arrested on Thursday, December 7, appeared before the Court on December 8. “All 10 suspects have been remanded into police custody for one week,” he said.
The FSD Executive Director stressed that “everything possible” would be done to ensure that galamsey activities in forest reserves were halted.
“This war requires collaborative and sustained efforts from various stakeholders including our military, chiefs, police, judiciary, media, civil society and forest-fringe communities to effectively deal with this existential threat,” he stressed.
“This war must be won,” he emphasised, saying that persons who were fueling the menace must desist from it.Mr Brown called on the residents of mining communities to help the Forestry Commission to protect the country’s forest reserves by reporting any activities that tamper with the natural resource.
The 16,000-hectare Oda Forest Reserve in the Amansie Central District in the Ashanti Region, has been under siege by illegal miners for some years now.
Although forest reserves have been declared a red zone to mining activities, galamsey activities are rife in the Oda River Forest and other reserves.
A State of the Nation’s Forest report presented by the Forestry Commission on May 2, this year, revealed that the Oda River Forest Reserve remains one of the boiling pints for galamsey.
According to the report, 421.11 hectares of the forest reserve had been wiped off by illegal miners.Such is the case with the 3,500-hectare Apamprama forest, where 1,729.32 hectares (49.4 per cent) has been destroyed by illegal miners.Also, 87.21 hectares of the 2,300-hectare Subin Shelterbelt reserve have been reduced to deep gullies through illegal mining.
The report further indicated that a total of 392,714.81 hectares of the country’s 288 forest reserves had been “significantly impacted” by illegal mining activities, out of which 4,726.26 hectares in 34 of the reserves had been confirmed as destroyed.