At least 20 excavators and many other mining equipment have been set on fire by the government’s military task force to crack down on illegal mining in the Eastern Region.
Eight out of the 20 excavators and one of the bulldozers destroyed is said to belong to the National Women’s Organizer of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kate Gyamfua.
The taskforce on Sunday May 16, raided some mining sites in Larbikrom, Dompem and Pamen, all in the Atiwa district of the Eastern Region.
The bulldozer is said to have been hired to reclaim degraded acres of land but was not spared by the task force.
The task force spent several hours at the mining site of the women’s leader after receiving calls from various quarters. However, they eventually set fire into the machines.
According to some persons who claim to work on the site of Madam Gyamfua, the team beat up some of the workers and took away some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages kept in a fridge.
At Akyem Larbikrom and Dompem, four excavators, including brand new ones, each valued at $120,000, were set ablaze. Dozens of water pumping machines were also destroyed.
The team is alleged to have taken away pump-action guns used by private security officers tasked to protect the mining sites.
The secretary to Kate Gyamfua’s mining firm, Nana Asante expressed disappointment in government’s action to burn their heavy-duty equipment.
According to him, the taskforce could have considered the contributions of Kate Gyamfua to the party and not burn the expensive equipment.
He also added that they had adhered to all the mining laws including reclamation of degraded lands.
“We have started reclaiming the lands and have planted cassava on them. We have never touched any river, we have rather dug dams and are using the water for washing.”
“We have not broken any law so we are at a loss why they would come here to destroy her machines,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, a member of the Small Scale Miners Association in the Eastern region, Hussein Suronim, has condemned the action of the taskforce.
He stated that the affected people are not illegal miners but licensed small scale miners who adhered to all the mining regulations.