By Nana Appiah, Kumasi
A total of nine people have committed suicide since the ban on Small Scale mining in Ghana was began 14 months ago.
Apart from that 14 miners have also died through cardiac arrests with the same time according to the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM).
Even though the causes of the suicides are not known, members of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) have attributed the deaths to an attempt to flee from their indebtedness which has brought shame upon them.
According to the association, in the 14 months of the ban, their members have been met with untold hardship and self pity as, to some of them, their worlds have come to an end.
Speaking to Today in an interview, the Director of Research and Planning of the association Mr. Mike Gizo noted that apart from the 24 deaths 38 of them have also been divorced by their wives as a result of their inability to repay their loans and take care of their families.
“This is just a microcosm of the hardship the NPP government has brought on us since they banned Small scale mining in this country 14 months ago, he noted adding that, ‘there are several other bitter stories we cannot share because of time”. He lamented
Mr. Gizo stated that 1.2 million licensed Small Scale miners in the country have been directly affected by the ban and by United Nations statistics on mining in the country, every miner has at least six dependants hence a total of 7.2 million people have been affected by the ban so far.
Apart from the capital losses to them, he said the huge capital losses to the nation as well could not be overemphasized, calling on the NPP government to ‘think smart’ and lift the ban.
According to Mr. Gizo, it beats their minds how, of all the learned men in the NPP, they have failed to streamline their mining sector as they claimed from the beginning of the ban, asking, ‘where are the wise men in our country’.
As we have said several times he noted, members of the GNASSM are duly licensed miners who adhered to strict regulations, and the government is aware, adding that the government could have targeted the illegal miners without unnecessarily banning all small scale miners.
“Even after the ban, there are a lot of small scale miners who are still at work, and they are foreigners while Ghanaian indigenes are suffering and dying at home”. He pointed emotively.
The GNASSM Director of Research and Planning recounted that the Association started their fight against the illegal miners popularly known as galamsey in 2013 and went further to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with University of Mines and Energy which has so far trained 1,200 of their members to enable them continue to engage in modern or professional mining.
According to him, since the assumption of NPP government additional 500 of their members have been trained by the University to ensure that they conduct their businesses in line with the rules and regulations of the sector.
“Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has been consistent on the position that we are not against government’s decision to regulate the business to help prevent the pollution and destruction of our water bodies and forest reserves but our concerns have always been the approach by the government to find a lasting solution to the problem.
“The Association has been of the view that the approach was not the best and should have been a systematic one. However, we supported the government for the first 6 months but the extension of the ban to 9 months and currently to 14 months, we are totally against it and presume the government wants to collapse our businesses completely”, he explained.