They have also called for a temporary ban to be placed on small-scale mining.
“We know we get money from small-scale mining, but there is the need to arrest and prosecute people involved in galamsey without fear or favour,” the Spokesperson for the religious leaders, Rt Rev. Professor J.O.Y. Mante said.
The delegation to the Jubilee House was made up of representatives from the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, the Pentecostal Council, the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council and the Muslim Council.
Last month, the religious leaders called for an immediate ban on all small-scale mining activities until a workable and satisfactory road map had been developed to ensure responsible mining in the country.
In their statement, they also proposed an urgent national stakeholders’ dialogue under the auspices of religious leaders to discuss the sector and the challenges of illegal mining with all political parties, mining technocrats, the media, traditional authorities and other relevant groupings.
They said that was to enable them to commit to “a non-partisan national strategy to sustainably deal with this national canker before we sink as a nation”.
The meeting with President Akufo-Addo was, therefore, part of the effort to help address the galamsey menace.
Spare no culprit
Rt Rev. Prof. Mante, who is the Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), said no matter the status of a person involved in galamsey, even if he or she was a reverend minister, the group wanted to see that person prosecuted.
“Whether the person is a politician or chief, we want to see his or her prosecution publicly, because if we make all the wealth in gold but destroy our environment or land, where will we build our houses, plant our food and get water to drink?” he quizzed.
Rt Rev. Prof. Mante, who is also the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, said they were ready, as religious leaders, to help curb the galamsey menace, adding: “If there is something that we do not know, we really want to know because things are getting very bad.”
Recounting some of their observations when a delegation of religious leaders visited some galamsey sites, the spokesperson, said “we have seen some very dangerous things that cannot even be expressed in textbooks”.
“One of the things I saw was to the effect that some people had their homes built in such a way that to get to one of their rooms, you have to take a ladder and go down in the house,” he said.
Again, he made reference to a viral video about a pregnant woman in Konongo Odumase who fell into a galamsey pit dug under the toilet when she was attending the call of nature and died
The Moderator further expressed worry that in spite of the fact that President Akufo-Addo had put his Presidency on the line as far as the galamsey menace was concerned, the matter was getting worse.
Commenting briefly on the economic crisis confronting the country, Rt Rev. Prof. Mante thanked the President for coming out to address the nation on the economy, adding that the crisis was being experienced beyond the country.
President Akufo-Addo, in his response, expressed appreciation to the religious leaders for the visit and said he was happy that the issue of galamsey had gripped the nation in his time and become a subject for discussion.
“The time when it went out of hand and we should have talked, we were quiet about it, but I think that today the public discourse, the public consciousness has been fully aroused as to the dangers that this development poses to our growth, our country’s progress and that, for me, is a source of satisfaction,” he added.
The President said the advocacy and the determination to make the galamsey issue a priority in the country had succeeded, with everybody, including media personnel, religious leaders, political forces and traditional rulers, now awake to the phenomenon.
He told the religious leaders that he would await a response from the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources on the concerns over the continuous deterioration of the galamsey situation, despite the interventions by the government, and also their demand for the temporary ban on small-scale mining to determine the appropriate feedback.
On October 14, the religious leaders paid a working visit to some galamsey sites in the Eastern Region to see at first-hand how the menace had affected the environment.
At some of the sites, seeing at first-hand the devastation caused by galamsey activities, the leaders sang patriotic songs and prayed to ask for God’s forgiveness for those destroying the country’s land and river bodies through mining.
The immediate past Chairman of the CCG, Bishop Dr Paul Boafo, who led the clergy to the mining sites, expressed shock at the extent of devastation.
“In Genesis, God said: ‘Tend it, care for it’; this is not the way to care for it. I will say that this is not the right way to go for wealth and bring to the church; no!” he said.