Illegal sand miners have invaded Nawuni, a village in the Kumbungu district, 40km southwest of Tamale, the Northern regional capital, harvesting tonnes of sand, destroying farmlands and putting the lives of about 8000 small scale farmers and fishmongers in severe danger.
The activity is also threatening the installations of the Ghana Water Company Limited sited in the Nawuni River which serves as a source of fresh water for residents of Tamale, Kumbungu, Savelugu and Tolon.
Many years of unregulated sand mining operation in the White Volta referred to locals as “Nawuni river” have devoured the sand deposits in the river and ruined the ecological system, destroyed vegetation, reduced fertile land, and exposed the communities to food insecurity.
About nine heavy mining machines including a caterpillar belonging to the Regional Coordinating Council are currently stationed near the river bank, scooping at least one thousand trucks of sand daily to supply to the construction market, polluting the water source.
Sand harvesting or winning is a booming venture in the region during dry seasons, and hundreds of illegal gold miners in the south who were pushed out in the ongoing government crackdown on galamsey operators have it a found viable alternative.
Hundreds of trees have been brought down, part of the riverbed at verge of collapse, and deep earth holes created since the activity became pervasive three months now.
The youth of Dalun who had seized management of the activity last year from the district assembly have also been pushed out by the operators with their heavy equipment threatening their livelihood which is raising security concerns.
Some of the operators have been identified as members of the Kandahar Boys, a vigilante group in Tamale backed by the ruling New Patriotic Party.
Secretary of the group, Mr. Abdul Hack confirmed the presence of some members of the group but clarified that those members were there in their private capacities as businessmen.
The Assemblyman for Dalun electoral area, Abubakari Mohammed said the chief of Dalun issued unlimited permit to the illegal miners to harvest the sand after the Kumbungu district assembly halted the activity.
He said the situation was at a dangerous level, adding, farmers have lost large acres of farmlands and the river was under threat.
“The destruction is too much to the extent that, right now I’m talking if you go there and see the green level of the grass, to the trees and the riverbanks, they are just destroying everything”.
According to him, tensions are rising between the district assembly authorities and the traditional ruler over the illegal activity as the chief continues to take heavy sum as royalties and urging on the miners.
He said hundreds of trucks sped off down the dirty road with tonnes of sand to the regional capital and other places where construction industry is booming.
Mr. Mohammed told Starr News the assembly has become helpless after attempts to forcibly drive out the miners failed. He said the District Chief Executive nearly had an open brawl with the Kandahar Boys also operating in the area when he paid a visit.
The District Chief Executive Hamza Salam Abdul Fatawu expressed concerns and said several meeting with the chief to stop the illegal mining “is not yielding”.
He said the chief downplayed the effects the activity posed and told him it will be difficult for him to stop the activity.
Mr. Fatawu revealed he had written to the Environmental Protection Agency and had received a warning letter from the Water Company about the illegal activity.
In a Starr News interview he indicated the “security matter” was now beyond the district assembly and had since been reported to the regional minister and his deputy.
Sources close to the minister, however, denied having received such report from the DCE but said the situation was being monitored.
Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Eliasu Tanko