Most of the galamsey excavators impounded by the government in the heat of the crackdown on illegal small-scale mining are for foreigners, former Secretary to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), Mr Charles Bissue has said.
The presidential staffer told Kwabena Prah Jr on Accra100.5FM’s morning show, Ghana Yensom, that majority of the seized earthmoving vehicles “were registered by foreigners” and “in the hands of foreigners”.
In February this year, the leader of the team in charge of monitoring and securing all the heavy-duty machines and auxiliary equipment used for galamsey, revealed that 315 excavators had been seized as of 31 January 2020 but only 127 were left in the central pool in Accra.
According to Nana Boadu, some of the excavators found their way back into the forest reserves.
At the time, he said about 32 were back in the forests of Obuasi, Ashanti Region, while about 15 were back in Tarkwa, Western Region.
Nana Boadu said the trackers on some of the excavators were “disengaged”, thus, the difficulty in tracing them.
Apart from the excavators, Nana Boadu said the team was also in charge of all other mining equipment seized from the galamseyers by the Operation Vanguard team.
They included fuel pumps, batteries, and ‘chan fans’.
About a week before that, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, had disclosed that some of the 500 excavators allegedly seized by the Inter-Ministerial Committee Against Illegal Small-Scale Mining had gone missing.
In an interview with Accra-based Joy FM, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said: “We were told that 500 [excavators] had been seized and given to the district assemblies but later on, when we went out to check, the figure was far less than that”.
Asked the exact figures, Prof Frimpong-Boateng answered: “I cannot tell you exactly what but I can tell you it was far lower than the 500 put out”.
He, however, noted that the earthmoving equipment that went missing, were in the custody of the district assemblies. “That was the case in most of the areas, so, we sent people out there to talk to the district assemblies and we got Vanguard involved and most of them had disappeared”, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said.
On Tuesday, 4 February 2020, the CID issued a statement announcing the arrest of six suspects in connection with the missing excavators.
They includedw the suspended Central Regional Vice-Chair of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Horace Ekow Ewusie.
The others were Frederick Ewusi, Joel Asamoah, Adam Haruna, Frank Gyan and John Arhin.
Ekow Ewusi, Frederick Ewusi and Joel Asamoah were cautioned on the offence of stealing while Adnan Haruna, Frank Gyan and John Arhin were cautioned on the offence of abetment of stealing.
The CID statement said the suspects were arrested on Monday, 3 February 2020 at Abelemkpe in Accra.