Government has announced the commencement of the fourth phase of its renewed anti-galamsey fight, ‘Operation Halt’.
401 military officers have therefore been deployed for the new phase which focuses on illegal mining activities on water bodies particularly, River Ankobra in the Western Region.
A statement from the Information Ministry on Thursday, May 27, 2021, said “the Ghana Armed Forces has commenced the fourth phase of Operation Halt II aimed at removing all persons and logistics involved in mining from water bodies.”
“The new phase of the operation focuses on the Ankobra River and its tributaries. The operation is being undertaken by four funded and one men of all ranks”, the release said.
The Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who signed the statement, advised the public to stay away from mining in water bodies to avoid any action by the forces.
‘Operation Halt’ so far
The first phase of ‘Operation Halt’ focused on the Pra River, but this time the attention was along the Pra in the Central Region, and not the Western Region.
The second phase was in the Ashanti Region, with the focus being on the Oda River and the River Offin in both Ashanti and Central Regions.
Phase Three focused on River Ayensu and Birim in the Eastern Region.
Equipment destroyed so far
The ‘Operation Halt’ taskforce has so far destroyed 49 excavators, 228 changfans, and
87 water pumping machines among other mining equipment.
The exercise has however faced a lot of criticism as it has heightened the debate on whether or not the decision to burn the seized equipment, particularly excavators, is appropriate or not.
President Akufo-Addo’s justification for the burning of the equipment and the challenge to persons who disagree with it to go to court, has even muddied the waters further, with some questioning legality of the action.
For the critics of the President’s comment, they argue that he cannot be condoning an illegality in his bid to tackle another illegality, since the Mining and Minerals Act, Act 995, does not recommend burning of mining equipment after they’re seized.