On Wednesday, August 31, two police officers from the Ellembelle Police Command in the Western Region abandoned two brand-new excavators they had in their possession.
A day after the two police officers left them, despite a frantic search in Ellembelle, the two brand-new excavators are sadly nowhere to be seen.
An incensed District Chief Executive (DCE) for Ellembelle, Kwasi Bonzo, who also serves as the chairman of the district security council, described how he informed ACP Dodzi Hlordzi of the divisional police commander about an ongoing illegal mining operation on the grounds of the Nkroful Agriculture Senior High School and requested that officers go there and take action against the offenders.
Unfortunately, the Divisional Police Commander told him there were no men for that operation.
“I received a distress call from the Headmaster of NASS about an illegal mining operation vigorously ongoing on a section of their property. Immediately after, another call came from a member of the District Small Scale Mining Committee with the same complaint. So, I called the Divisional Police Commander about it and told him the team has been able to track the machine to Teleku Bokazu and needed men to protect them while we look for a vehicle to convey them to a safer location.”
He continued, “To my dismay, the Divisional Police Commander told me there are no men to undertake my request. I was scandalized. Because what I was expecting that, he will make it a priority and treat it with dispatch considering the priority the President and his government have given to illegal mining. Well, after several minutes of back and forth, the Divisional Commander agreed to release two men but said that the men can only protect the machines to 6pm. You should have seen my reaction on the phone. For more than 18 minutes, I tried to convince the Divisional Commander on the need to give maximum protection. But his answer was the same… What can I do, because as a DCE all I can do is to alert and if it becomes difficult, arrest but the final action should be taken by the police. So, the two men came.”
Kwasi Bonzo continued by describing how, at around 5:30 p.m., he received a call from the District Small Scale Mining Committee member assigned to him informing him that the two police officers had announced their departure.
“And true to their words, they left the machines. At that time, we had still not been able to secure a vehicle to convey the machines. Earlier, I had even informed the regional minister about our challenge and he was also looking for a vehicle to help because we couldn’t get any in the whole of Ellembelle and Jomoro. It was late in the night and we couldn’t get any watchdog to help. I called the Divisional Police Commander again it was the same response I was getting.
“Strangely, that same night and the night before we saw police officers with vehicles stationed on that same stretch of road that we needed protection for the machines. Maybe on checkpoint duties. So, if it was the priority of the police to help government win this fight against illegal mining, couldn’t they have gone there and change the police men? Is this not ironic? Where is the commitment of the police? That, at the height of the fight against illegal small scale mining, the police do not see the need to show that commitment, then it is a big worry?”
When asked why the District Mining Committee and National Bureau Investigation team could not immobilise the two machines, he explained that no mechanic was willing to help.
“Previously, when we arrest an excavator, we call these mechanics to come and take the control board. You need a special mechanic to do that. So, we have been working with them. Strangely, this time the team called four separate mechanics and none was willing to help. They were simply not interested. So, you see that this thing is an organised crime.”
Left with no option, the District Chief Executive for Ellembelle, Kwasi Bonzo, led members of the District Security Committee (DISEC) to the illegal mining site on Thursday, September 1 to destroy two other brand new machines abandoned there.
“Look at the level of destruction in just two days, only two days. We cannot continue to do this to ourselves. We cannot use false pretence. It will not help anyone. Since no one will help, we will set fire on any machine found at any illegal mining site. In fact, I will personally be buying petrol and setting the machines on fire. We have to win this fight against illegal mining.”
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication do not in anyway reflect the opinions of State News Ghana