Illegal sand winning activities at Nsakina and other communities in the Ablekuma district have led to the degradation and erosion of several lands.

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According to them, the sand winning practices have left many of the lands in deplorable states due to the haphazard and unplanned nature of the activity.

They said tractors are usually brought to dig sand from the various sites, with the excuse that they are helping to shape the roads.

A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said he suspects that the illegal sand winning activities are backed by the opinion leaders of the community.

According to him, the menace – which has destroyed many lands – has been reported to the authorities many times, yet no action has been taken.

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“Look at the place, it’s in a mess. No a single week passes without a tractor coming to collect sand from this area. It’s a mess and it’s worrying,” he lamented.

“It’s not as if we haven’t complained. The thing is that some opinion leaders in the community are in bed with those destroying the lands. When you speak, they say they are only helping to open the roads, but the fact is that what they are really interested in is digging up the sand."

“Just look at how the land has eaten up. As it stands, all the roads have now turned into water ways because the surface has been exposed to erosion and when it rains then it becomes like a gutter for the rain water to pass through,”  he added.

Indeed, sand winning activities have been prevalent in many parts of the country and have consequently accounted for the degradation of many lands.

The 2017 Parliamentary report indicated that over 85% of sand winners in the country are operating illegally.

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The report attributed the menace to improper supervision and gross irresponsibility on the part of the Minerals Commission.

Though some District Assemblies have established taskforces to combat the menace, the illegal sand winners sometimes operate at night and are armed with deadly weapons thereby making it difficult to be stopped.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also previously attributed the widespread of illegal operations to low penalty regime for offenders.Currently. the prescribed penalty for sand winning offences under Regulation 29 of the Legislative Instrument (L.I) 1652 is just GHc200.

Such a paltry fine means even when illegal sand winners are caught; they easily find their way around the law by paying the fine.