“I know it has worried you the chiefs a lot; but because I used a helicopter to arrive at Kyebi here, and because of what I saw that’s why I said that,” Mr Mahama explained.
He was speaking during a sod cutting ceremony for the construction of roads in some cocoa growing areas. He used the occasion to pay a courtesy call on the Okyenhene at Ofori Panin Fie in Kyebi, the capital of the East Akim Municipal Assembly of the Eastern Region yesterday.
During a visit to commission a water project at Kyebi last year, President Mahama remarked, “…excuse me to say, Akyem Abuakwa has turned into the headquarters of galamsey in Ghana. I came here by air and if you see how the land is being destroyed, it saddens me.”
Interestingly, the president’s hometown, Bole, has been equally taken over by galamsey (illegal mining) operations – most of the operators come from Burkina Faso and Niger.
The president’s remark provoked anger among the chiefs and residents of the area, especially when galamsey operators were equally destroying the land in his own hometown.
The cocoa roads project, being financed by the Ghana Cocoa Board, will see the upgrading of roads at Adeisu, Asamankese and Kyebi, according to Mr Mahama.
The president hinted that he would make sure all the roads in the region were constructed to better the lives of the residents.
Not only would the major highways be tarred, the president said, many of the streets in the various towns would also be rehabilitated.
Mr Mahama gave the assurance that the project would not delay since the money had already been allocated for it, adding that it is under the supervision of the Ghana Highway Authority.
Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, referring to the president’s derogatory remark, tasked him (president) to set a task force to clamp down on galamsey operations.
The Okyenhene was worried about how illegal mining has been destroying water bodies in the country and killing people, especially the uncovered pits in the Akyem areas, due to the high rate of unemployment.
“The minerals are owned by government. Galamsey is illegal and we are being told that Kyebi is the headquarters; then one is at a loss as to who made Kyebi galamsey headquarters. Mr Mahama, please wake up and stop the illegal mining in the country before it gets out of hand,” Okyenhene told the president.
Osagyefuo Amoatia appealed to the president to ensure that the road rehabilitation project he had cut the sod for its commencement did not become a nine-day wonder.