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Government Should Offer Dislocated Illegal Miners Options


Now that the fight against galamsey is in full swing with the government leading the way, it is my fervent hope and that of millions of Ghanaians that illegal mining will become a thing of the past, will in fact, go the way of the dinosaurs, be extinguished forever.

But keeping the Chinese and their Ghanaian accomplices away from the mine pits — their sole source of income — will be contingent on the government persevering in its efforts to stamp out illegal mining, and if it does not show signs of weakness by capitulating to outside interests.

In the meantime, Ghanaians should not relent in getting this galamsey scourge out of our system; they should continue piling pressure on government to keep its commitment to this noble cause.

Much as I applaud the president’s strong stand and commitment against galamsey, I think  some hard questions need to be asked; an exercise of this magnitude, that is, displacing and dislocating hundreds of workers from jobs they have had for a considerable part of their lives, is bound to have repercussions not only on the hapless workers but also on the society as a whole.

I am not privy to the president’s plans on what he intends to do with the displaced illegal Ghanaian miners who will soon swell the ranks of the unemployed in our cities, towns and villages.

If there are no immediate official plans to absorb these miners into the workforce, any workforce at all, then the government is clearly courting upheaval, massive social unrest. The government is already grappling with a huge number of unemployed young men and women and can least afford to add to that number.  It is just not tenable.

Mr. Addo sounded sincere in saying that he will fight tooth and nail to rid Ghana of galamsey, but there is one glaring omission in his commitment: to date he hasn’t articulated a position on post galamsey.

The president’s silence is not exactly unexpected. Politicians have the knack of pushing projects with the clear goal of bolstering their popularity and scoring political points. But in their zeal, they deliberately neglect to focus on the post project —- what will come after the project is complete.

Some of the illegal Chinese miners will ultimately be repatriated, and some will remain in Ghana to pursue other lucrative ventures, that we all know. Those who return to China will be reabsorbed into Chinese society.

Their government will be unhappy with our government for kicking out its citizens and treating them shabbily. But rest assured that the two governments will find a way to resolve the issue without much fanfare or a public spat.  That is international diplomacy at work.

What exactly is our government going to do with our illegal miners? That is the fundamental question. Lets be blunt here: Mr. Addo is playing with fire if he has not already hatched a plan to do something with these people; at least, find them alternatives, Mr. President. It is a matter of national security.

Having lost their jobs, jobs that gave them dignity and the means to survive the rather harsh and brutal financial climate in Ghana, the miners will be an angry lot, ready to pounce on anyone who has slammed the door shut on them.

The rage and anger will not only be directed towards political office holders — remember the miners said they will not vote for Mr. Addo again in 2020 — our society may as well be a target. Ghanaians will increasingly become victims of robberies and other crimes, if some of these unemployed miners decide that without a means of supporting themselves and their families, they are going to be “creative” in other ways.


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