10 illegal miners (galamsey) arrested at the Oda River Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.

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Ten individuals engaged in unauthorized mining activities, which have resulted in extensive environmental damage to the Oda River Forest Reserve in the Amansie Central District of the Ashanti Region, have been apprehended. The group comprises seven Ghanaian nationals and three Chinese nationals, detained during a three-day operation conducted by the Bekwai Forest District of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission. This operation, carried out from December 6 to December 8, 2023, is part of the ongoing nationwide efforts by the Forestry Commission to combat illegal mining (galamsey) in forest reserves.

Executive Director Hugh Brown of the FSD disclosed to the Daily Graphic that the illegal miners were operating in seven designated red zones within the forest reserve. The operation resulted in the seizure of two Toyota Hilux pick-ups and various equipment used by the illegal miners. Notably, 10 excavators, 19 fuel tanks, nine power plants, two chanfang machines, four motorbikes, five water pumping machines, and seven wooden structures were immobilized.

Legal action has been initiated against the suspects. Seven of them were arraigned before the Bekwai Circuit court on December 7, while the remaining three appeared in court on December 8. All 10 suspects have been remanded into police custody for one week.

Hugh Brown emphasized the commitment to cease galamsey activities in forest reserves, highlighting the need for collaborative efforts from stakeholders such as the military, chiefs, police, judiciary, media, civil society, and forest-fringe communities. He urged individuals in mining communities to assist the Forestry Commission by reporting any activities that threaten natural resources.

The Oda River Forest Reserve, spanning 16,000 hectares in the Amansie Central District, has been under siege by illegal miners for several years. Despite being declared a red zone for mining activities, galamsey activities persist, causing significant environmental degradation. The Forestry Commission’s State of the Nation’s Forest report in May revealed alarming destruction, with 421.11 hectares of the Oda River Forest Reserve impacted by illegal mining. The report also highlighted widespread damage in other reserves, emphasizing the urgent need for collective action to address this existential threat.

Source: Graphiconline

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