The taskforce deployed to combat illegal mining (galamsey) has explained why some excavators used by galamseyers were set on fire.
There has been outrage after videos emerged showing burning excavators as many argue the machines could have served a purpose in other fields.
But the commander of the “Operation Vanguard” says his men were provoked, adding the miners were acting smart.
Colonel William Agyapong admitted in an interview with Citi FM that burning of the machines was not part of their mandate.
He said after the brouhaha over the burning machines, he demanded answers from his men and he was told the galamseyers will deliberately immobilise their excavators and move away from the site when they get hit the taskforce was coming.
“I must admit that it’s not part of our mandate; we are to marshal all available resources both human and material to combat this galamsey menace so it is not part of our mandate. However, when we learnt that these items have been burnt…we had a conference with the team demanding to know why that action was taken,” he said.
He continued: “They said that their intention was not to burn those items but they were provoked beyond their ability because these people have been playing hide and seek strategy with them.
Whenever the taskforce moves to such areas, as soon as the operators see the taskforce coming, they will just immobilise the machine either by taking away the control board or immobilising it so that we cannot even spark it and drive it to the designated places.
At least 90 illegal miners have so far been arrested.
We have arrested as many as 90 suspected illegal miners. In Eastern Region, we arrested 29, Western Region, 58 and in Ashanti Region we have arrested 3, Col. Agyapong said.