The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor, MP, has affirmed the Ministry’s resolve to work to sanitise the lands and natural resources sector of the country. He said lands and natural resources of any country, constitutes the country and ought to be protected and managed for the benefit of the people.
The Government will therefore not relent in its efforts to sanitise the lands and natural resources sector through appropriate policies and regulations.
According to the Minister, “the commitment of President Akufo-Addo to ensure the sustainable and efficient management of the lands and natural resources of the country, anchored on integrity and transparency is total and unflinching…. and the Government will be relentless, totally committed, and enhance all the measures that have been put in place to come to grips with the matters of illegal mining.”
The Minister made this comment when he appeared on the Breakfast Show of Ghana Television (GTV) on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. He observed that the menace of illegal mining is an age-old problem that predates the Fourth Republic. And even though the illegal mining still persists, the Government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and its agencies, has worked to bring the situation reasonably under control.
Government’s interventions in this area have largely been two-fold, regulatory and enforcement. In the area of regulation, he mentioned some of the government’s policies as reforms at the Minerals Commission, including resourcing the Inspectorate Division of the Commission, digitalisation of the Minerals Commission, the introduction of online applications for mineral rights, and the revamping of the Community Mining Schemes. On enforcement, he said some of the policies being implemented by the Government include the declaration of water bodies and Forest Reserves as Red Zones for mining, the ban on reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration for minerals in Forest Reserves, the introduction of Operation Halt II, the tracking of earthmoving equipment and machines for mining, among others.
The Minister emphasised that the Government of President Akufo-Addo is not against small scale mining, but wants it to be done in a legally regulated way. To this end, the Government has developed a Manual for Community Mining Scheme, which seeks to ensure that community mining is done in an environmentally sound manner. The manual requires that Community Mining Schemes have sick bays, changing rooms, concurrent reclamation and revegetation, functioning offices, and environmental officers on site.
He added that the Regional, Municipal and District Security Councils have been tasked to led the fight in their various jurisdictions, to be supported by the national task force as and when the need arises. He called on all communities to support this fight as the communities bear the brunt of the consequences of illegal mining.
Touching on lands, the Minister opined that the consequence of a poorly regulated land sector is a serious as illegal mining. The Government is therefore committed to building a robust, efficient and effective land administration that is anchored on integrity. Mr. Jinapor said the Government is therefore investing in technology at the Lands Commission to ensure we achieve this vision.
Some of these technological reforms has resulted in the Lands Commission moving some of its services, including searches, online, and introducing composite search at the Commission to replace the searches at the different Divisions of the Commission. He indicated that the Commission is also implementing a digitisation programme that will see to the digitalisation of the records of the Lands Commission.
On forestry, the Minister said the government was committed to protecting the forest cover of our country while implementing an aggressive afforestation programme to restore the lost forest cover of our country. He added that the Government is doing this through policies like the Green Ghana Project, the ban on harvesting and export of Rosewood, and the ban on commercial production of charcoal in some parts of the country.
He bemoaned the continuous depletion of our forest cover since 1900 without any aggressive effort to restore same. He called on all well-meaning Ghanaians and residents of Ghana to support the Government’s afforestation Programme, particularly the Green Ghana Project, which will see to the planting of at least, Twenty Million (20,000,000) trees this year.