A mines inspector was found 'heavily drunk' during a ministerial tour of the Eastern region booming with illegal mining popularly known as 'galamsey'.
Visibly displeased, the Lands and Natural Resources minister John Peter Amewu vowed to take action against the intoxicated inspector named only as Yaw.
Mines inspectors are responsible for monitoring the activities of players in a mining industry now famed for the wanton destruction of the environment.
It is said that three million miners are destroying water bodies meant to sustain more than 20million consumers.
Following a national hue and cry over the debilitating effects of unregulated mining, government issued a 3-week ultimatum for illegal miners to pack out of the lands.
The deadline expired this week Wednesday.
John Peter Amewu and his deputy Benito Owusu-Bio and officials of the Minerals Commission in the Eastern region toured mining sites. They were followed by a team of journalists.
They visited areas like Kubreso, Atiwa, Pinaman, West Anyinam and Kyebi where excavators and other mining equipment are found.
Although the sites were deserted, the effects of mining were tellingly "massive", Joy News Matilda Wemegah observed.
Some sites as toured by the minister
On the day that the 3-week ultimatum for the illegal miners to leave their sites ended, Yaw courted the anger of the minister.
"How can such a person be responsible for monitoring?....If you put people like this to work, there is no way you can expect any accuracy in terms of monitoring", he said.
'We are asking that he immediately be transferred to Accra. He is going to work in my office," Mr. Amewu said.
He blamed the Mines Inspectorate Directorate of the Minerals Commission of sleeping on the job.
The minister lamented ineffective monitoring of mine sites partly because few mines inspectors are tasked to cover huge tracts of land.
"One person cannot be responsible for this huge area", he looked at the sprawling land area where the damaging work of excavators is obvious.
The minister found a large site where prospecting for gold had been going on without any licence. The mines inspector for the area, Frimpong, told the minister he had not noticed the activities of the miners.
Photo: Amewu interogates Mines Inspector, Frimpong
"If I had passed here, [and seen] these mining equipment, I would have asked that they be removed," he told the entourage.
Scores of excavators have been seen leaving the region since the ultimatum was issued. Some believe the withdrawal is temporary as the miners wait for a national anger to ebb before returning to the destructive search for gold.