A handing and taking-over ceremony has been held for Col William Nii Nortey to assume Command of Operation Vanguard.
A short ceremony at the Joint Taskforce headquarters at Obuasi-Wawasi, Col Nortey was inducted into office as the new Commander by Rev. Major Noah Boahen.
This was contained in a statement issued to the Ghana News Agency by Captain Andy Sowatey, Public Relations Officer of Operation Vanguard.
The statement said the guest of honour for the occasion, General Officer Commanding Central Command, Brig Gen Joseph Aphour, in his brief remarks, charged the troops to rally behind the new Commander to successfully clamp down on illegal mining in the country.
It said the outgoing Commander Col Konadu in his speech revealed that since the beginning of the operation up till the end of May 2019, Operation Vanguard had arrested a total of 2,185 suspects including foreigners and a total of 9,111 Schanfagn machines had been destroyed.
According to Col Konadu, from January to May 2019, a total of 369 people had been arrested.
He added that 40 excavators were seized while 84 others were immobilised.
Col Konadu decried the slow pace of prosecution and conviction of arrested illegal miners.
He stated that 76 out of 2,185, accounting for only 3.5 per cent of the suspects, arrested had been convicted.
This he said had emboldened illegal miners, to carry out their activities with impunity.
The out-going Commander, Col Konadu said a worrying phenomenon was the rise in the number of other African nationals in illegal mining in the country.
He said from January to May 2018, 12 people from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso were arrested for engaging in illegal mining in the Country.
However, the number hiked up to102 from January to May this year.
He paid tribute to his predecessors, Col William Agyapong, Brig Gen M Amoah Ayisi and Col Jackson Wongye for putting in place a solid foundation for the advancement of Operation Vanguard’s Mission.
Col Konadu expressed his gratitude for the support he received from the troops and all stakeholders and requested that same support be shown to his successor.
The statement said Col William Nii Nortey in his remarks asked the troops to support him to achieve the goal for which Operation Vanguard was birthed.
The statement said present at the ceremony were the Municipal Chief Executive for Obuasi, Mr Elijah Bonah, the District Chief Executives for Obuasi East and Adansi Asokwa, Commander Rear for the 4th Battalion of Infantry, Lt Col KW Peprah and the District Police Commander amongst others.