Operation Vanguard, a military-police task force set up by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2017 to combat the operations of galamseyers in Ghana, has been suspended in the government’s renewed fight against the menace.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, 11 May 2021.
Addressing the media, Mr Jinapor said: “The operations and activities of Operation Vanguard has been suspended for the time being”.
“Operation Vanguard is no more in operation”, he stressed.
“As we speak, we had a meeting between myself, the minister of national security, the minister for the interior, the minister of defence, the minister of information [and] we came to the firm conclusion that the operations of Vanguard are to cease”, he announced at a press briefing on the fight against galamsey on Tuesday, 11 May 2021.
According to him, “all other task forces continue to remain disbanded”, explaining: “There are no such task forces anywhere”.
“I’m privy to the concerns of the Small Scale Miners Association and I’ve had the occasion to interact with their leadership and I’ve made it clear to them that there are no such sanctioned security operations anywhere in respect of small-scale mining”, Mr Jinapor noted.
In place of Operation Vanguard, the government has deployed some 400 men from the Ghana Armed Forces in a mission called Operation Halt II aimed at removing all persons and logistics involved in mining in the red zones – water bodies and forest reserves.
The operation focuses on the tributaries of the Pra river, which have also been significantly affected by the activities of illegal miners.
The Ghana Armed Forces has also commenced armed patrols of the Pra river itself.
The team destroyed some 28 excavators and 267 chanfans seized from illegal small-scale miners on the River Pra in the Eastern Region.
Also, 18 water pumping machines, 2 industrial machines, 18 generator sets, 10 plastic chairs, 5 canoes, 1 wooden accommodation, 8 industrial batteries, 1 platform, 21 new pumping machines, a Kia Bongo truck, and 2 pump action guns were seized in the operation started over the weekend.
According to him, the Ghana Armed Forces, which is leading the operation, has destroyed a total of 476 chanfans in the past week.
Speaking at the same media briefing, Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul, said the exercise “should be sustained” to prevent a return of the galamseyers.
According to him, the activities of the galamseyers is not only destroying the river bodies but their tributaries, too.
Mr Nitiwul also urged the government to “relook” at the legal framework that allows action to be taken against only those operating within 100 metres of river bodies and forest reserves.
That particular law, he noted, has restricted the team from taking action against galamseyers operating slightly outside the 100-m limit.
As a result, Mr Nitiwul said the team is not able to “capture every prisoner” not because they are incapable of doing so but the law is being a hurdle since they are operating “strictly” within the legal framework.