The first batch of 100 River Wardens has completed a 4-week intensive pre-deployment training course at the Eastern Naval Command in Tema to prepare them to provide security to the country’s river bodies to save them from further destruction as a result of illegal mining activities.
Speaking at the passing out ceremony on Tuesday, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Mines, Mr George Mireku Duker, stated that the wardens were recruited from districts bordering the Rivers Ankobra, Bonsa and sections of Pra and Tano.
He noted that the training was focused on developing swimming techniques, water confidence, and boat handling among others and that this was accomplished through classroom lectures, practical demonstrations, physical training as well as drills.
The Deputy Minister said the ceremony demonstrated the government’s willingness to combat illegal mining and establish a responsible, viable and sustainable mining business that would benefit the state and the investing community.
He indicated that the small-scale mining sector was a path through which the country could develop a large number of local champions to meet the government’s aim of increasing ownership in the mining industry.
He cited Operations Halt II, the Community Mining Scheme, the procurement of Gold Katcha Machines and Speed Boats and the recent engagement with Chiefs and MMDAs as examples of measures to combat illegal mining.
Mr Duker noted that data on Ghana’s Mining Sector contribution in tandem with other indicators reinforce the idea that small-scale mining was one of the primary drivers of the country’s economy and that it must be adequately regularized at all levels of operations.
He congratulated the wardens and asked them to carry out their responsibilities with patriotism, selflessness and integrity, adding that, “daunting days lie ahead of you. The temptations of bribery, greed for money and many more are likely to sway off your purpose, but I urge you to put on the armour of patriotism and above all, you are to foster peace and prosperity in the various communities through which the various river bodies flow.”
He also applauded some of the trainees who were awarded for their exceptional performance in the training. Six awards were given in all, ranging from Best swimmer, Best boat handler, best team leader, Best Physical Trainee, Best in Drill and an overall best award.
Government officials who were with the Deputy Minister at the graduation ceremony were the Western Regional Minister and Member of Parliament for Takoradi, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah and the Deputy Minister for Information, Fatimatu Abubakar.
The river warden training course is a collaboration between the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Minerals Commission, and the Ghana Navy to protect Ghana’s river bodies from illegal mining activities.
Irene Wirekoaa Osei, ISD