The Ghana Armed Forces(GAF) have become the subject of multiple lawsuits following weeks of a clampdown on small scale mining activities in some districts of the Ashanti region, sanctioned by the Central Command as part of Operation Halt II.
Several mining equipment, some parked several kilometres away from any mine site belonging to some licensed small scale miners have been torched by armed soldiers in recent weeks, in what the military says is an exercise to save the environment.
A fortnight ago, the National Concerned Small Scale Miners Association of Ghana (NCSSMAG) in a press statement described the offensive by government-deployed soldiers as “a grand scheme to throw miners who are unwilling to part with huge sums of money to the soldiers in the Operation Halt out of business”, served notice of possible legal action against the republic.
At the time, the association said they had “incontrovertible evidence to prove that the soldiers deployed by the government are only interested in cashing in on the operation, charging a minimum of GHC 45,000 if a miner wants to have the peace of mind to do their work.”
Just last week, a morning crackdown by the Operation Halt II in the Atwima Mponua and Amansie West districts saw several excavators parked at home and others on-site set ablaze; a ravaging inferno from three excavators parked at home at Ntobroso spread wide and gutted a 7 bedroom house belonging to a small scale miner.
Addressing a press conference in the aftermath, the General Officer Commanding the Central Command of the Ghana Armed Forces, Brigadier General Joseph Arphour described the operation as successful, safe the situation that caused the house fire.
One small scale miner whose excavator and bulldozer and three drums of diesel were set ablaze on-site at Manso Moseaso in the Amansie West District has threatened to sue the government and the Ghana Armed Forces for the loss.
According to Mr. Jacob Adongo, he is involved in a responsible and legal business and so there was no justification for the mayhem on his concession; he is one of the very few small scale miners in the country who take steps to reclaim the land after mining.
“I do not understand why anybody would just come to my site to set my machines ablaze because I am not mining on a river body, neither I’m I working in a forest reserve; the bulldozer that they burnt down is what I have been using to reclaim the land, so now that they have destroyed it, how do they want the land to be reclaimed”, he said in an interview with Kumasi-based Angel FM monitored by Mynewsgh.com on Monday morning.
He estimates the price of the excavator at GHC 1.6 million, the bulldozer at GHC 1.1 million and the drums of diesel at GHC 80,000 and expects the government to take immediate steps to pay him or he follows suit with legal action as has been done by some of his colleague small scale miners.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah told Kumasi-based Abusua FM that he did not know anything about the operation until he heard about the mayhem it had resulted in the media.
So far, close to 50 small scale miners who have been adversely affected by the crackdown by the soldiers have proceeded to court.
According to the NCCSMAG, “No amount of intimation and targeting would suffice in this brazen attempt to send the small scale mining sector back to the doldrums; we hope that the outcome of the 2020 general elections still serves a great lesson to the powers that be.”