Villagers who spoke to Habakkuk Trust lamented that they bear the brunt of environmental degradation as a result of the mining activities taking place in their area hence they felt it was imperative for them to defend their land. In addition, they explained that they have never envisaged mining activities taking place in their area for purposes of conserving culture, history, and their natural heritage.
However, the locals suffered arbitrary beatings and arrests at the hands of the police clad in riot gear after the miners reported them to the police. The incident forced other targeted individuals to escape and seek refuge in the hills.
“We were harassed, threatened with disappearance, forced to sleep in mountains and some of us arrested for defending our land,” lamented one of the victims. “We might have gold in this area but our main priority is not what is under the ground but the preservation of our land and cultural heritage.”
The Mines and Minerals Act supersede all other acts that strengthen community development. The situation has given rise to perennial conflict between villagers and miners resulting in illicit activities that deprive the state of substantial revenue and impeding community benefit.
Meanwhile, Habakkuk Trust and other stakeholders are calling for the meaningful involvement of communities in prospecting procedures and the further decentralisation of the Ministry of Mines. This will enable communities to actively participate in natural resource governance. A decentralised system is likely to see increased monitoring of the mining activities, increased enforcement mechanisms, and communities meaningfully benefiting from locally available resources and subsequent reduction in mining conflicts.
Source: Habbakuk Trust