The New Patriotic Party’s 2020 Parliamentary Candidate for the Akwatia Constituency in the Eastern Region, Mr. Ernest Kumi, has lambasted the ‘Operation Halt’ task force for burning 16 excavators and a bulldozer belonging to Xtra-Gold Mining Limited, a licensed small-scale mining company in the Atiwa West district.
Mr. Kumi insists that the company has the right to operate at its designated place, and that it is not engaged in illegal mining activities.
According to him, the burning of the said equipment was unfair and did not follow due process.
In response to the company’s complaints, the Minister for Defense, Mr. Dominic Nitiwul, said that the management of the company was playing the victim card because their equipment had been destroyed.
However, during an appearance on Citi TV’s Breakfast Daily programme, Mr. Kumi disagreed with the Minister.
“First, I want us to be very clear on this. I support the fight against galamsey especially when the President has defined the red zone policy that if you are operating within our water bodies and destroying our water bodies or if you are operating within a red zone and having to destroy our forest, then the military has the right to halt your activities, and I think that is the way to go, and I support that wholly.”
“…But for the Minister to come and tell us that the amount of PR and playing victim will not work is very unfortunate. Who is playing victim here? I think that whatever he is putting out there is unfair because in everything you need to follow due processes because you cannot go out and say because you are fighting galamsey you end up destroying people’s property irrespective of whether they are doing the right thing or not.”
“I rather think whatever the Minister is putting out there is reverse psychology in a bid to seek our emotional support. So because they are fighting against galamsey, which we all support, with the excesses from their operations, people do not have the right to talk about them? I just don’t think they have any right to do whatever they are doing because Xtra-Gold Mining Company is not operating close to any river and therefore burning their excavators is very bad.”
Xtra-Gold Mining Limited had previously expressed disappointment about the development, referring to the task force’s action as “a clear violation of the rule of law.”
“Our company pays big money royalties, taxes, stool land fees. We are socially responsible, and employ hundreds of local workers. At the same time that we are paying all these huge taxes, the military is burning millions of dollars of our mining equipment,” a statement from the company said.