In Elmina social distancing means nothing: Residents win sand, dig for gold

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As Ghana battles coronavirus, in the coastal town of Elmina in the Central Region, hundreds of residents besiege the beach to win sand and scavenge for gold.

It’s as if the entire community is at the beach.

The residents busily scoop the sand from the beautiful Elmina beach and carry them into waiting tricycles and bigger trucks.

While the residents were busily at it, dozens of their compatriots also pitched camp at the same beach scavenging for gold.

According to the residents, the ongoing sea defense project will deprive them of the sand at the beach eventually if they failed to take advantage of it now.

The sound of the shovel and the movement of the people from the beach to and from the shoulders of the road was deafening. It’s as if nothing else mattered in the whole world.

Kwaku Mensah and his friends have been at the beach for close to a week. They are not winning sand, but are scavenging for gold.

The very spot where Kwaku and his friends stand is the same spot where hundreds of gold seekers swarmed the shores of Elmina, in 2011, scavenging for gold which was said to have been washed ashore the Elmina beach.

Kwaku says they see their new found love as God sent: it fetches them a lot of money.

Kwaku and his friends believe what they are digging is the real thing – the gold. This has really helped us. It’s real gold,” he was excited.

Kwaku explains that they are happy they have the permission of the authorities to engage in such an activity.

“Now, no one chases us when we come here. For a whole week, the police have not been here to check anything. And that’s good for us,” he said.

At the same beach is Maame Praba and Kuukua. The two, with three of their community folks, have loaded three tricycles already. The expressions on their faces tell how excited they are in what they are engaged in.

“This is so good. We couldn’t afford to buy the sand so when they said we could come get some for free, we abandoned everything, we all rushed here. We’ve loaded three tricycles already and that’s good money,” they relished.

The youth leader at Brofobobaho (where the sand winning is ongoing), Nana Pakay, says the sea defense under construction is very close to them and if the sand is not taken away from the beach, it will go waste.

“If we don’t take away the sand, we may miss out. This might probably be our last moment fetching sand from the beaches. This is because, in days or weeks, the sea defense might take over the beach,” he explained.

It is not only the residents of Elmina that are at the beach but other people from neighboruing communities have all come to take part in the activities here.

From a bird’s eye view, social or physical distancing appears to be thrown to the dogs.

The directive by the government on social distancing appears to be something very difficult to implement in the midst of the activities ongoing at the beach. Many dread the repercussions on human life should an outbreak of Covid-19 hits.

About 100 metres away from where these activities are, is the company that’s undertaking the construction of the sea defence. The construction of the sea defence has been going on along the coastal belt for months.

When Joy News contacted the MCE for the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abirem Municipality, Mr Appiah Korang, he averred, the police had gone to flush them out when the activities began but the people come back, whenever, the police leave the beach.

He gave a strong indication that he was going to deal with the matter to ensure sanity prevailed at the beach.

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