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For How Long Will These People Suffer?

Photo Courtesy of Wa Kamlesh
Residents of Nyacaba Area of Ndarugo Location, Witeithie Ward in Kiambu County are protesting about the countless number of dangerous open pits that are being left behind by quarry miners in the area. They say that some of these pits are so deep and left uncovered posing a grave danger to their children and residents at large.

They are at times so close to residential houses posing great danger to the safety of the buildings. Children sometimes enter mines without supervision a factor that is worrying many parents in the area. In one particular instance,we witnessed a church that had to employ the services of ushers near the hole to guard against small kids going near the pit as the church service is going on.

Ndarugu area is notorious for such quarries that exist in total disregard for people’s safety and the environment.  For many years, these stone harvesters have led to adverse negative environmental effects either during the mining process or long after the mines have been closed. They leave the open pits uncovered after the stones are exhausted, not even protecting them with a barbed wire fence.

These quarries are undeniably of economic significance. However, they are also a source of so many problems, both when still active and after being abandoned. 

This area has witnessed various quarry accidents and health complaints associated with quarrying activities which have not been addressed. Deaths in abandoned and inactive mines occur regularly. Drowning especially among the young kids is the number one cause of death in these abandoned quarries.

More significantly, they result to the degradation of land, drainage problems and visual intrusion because many are not rehabilitated after use. Falls are also deadly. The rocks of quarries that have already been harvested are highly unstable since they are usually fractured by the blasting and machine activity. A person’s weight will easily destabilise an entire face of rock leading to a fatal fall.

Some of these deaths and injuries can be prevented if citizens know the danger of these mines. The authorities should compel these stone harvesters to make better efforts to warn people of the dangers and limit access to these facilities. The county government should also prepare policies to govern reclaiming or regulating of quarries.

It is crucial for all mining operations to be reclaimed when work is completed. Miners should be compelled to return the land to a condition similar to before the mining was done or in an alternative condition specified in their approved mining permit. The responsibility to reclaim these mines should fall to the current property owner or to the county government.

The county government should also educate the local community about the dangers of abandoned mines in an effort to save lives. One life saved is worth a lot of effort. Dangerous sites should also be reported to the relevant authorities so that action can be taken.

It is not a hidden secret that stone being an important component in the construction of homes in Kenya, it is often demanded in large quantitiesThis demand in turn supports the fact that there is an enormous reliance on stone aggregates making the quarrying industry a major player in the provision of essential building materials and providing employment opportunities. However, great care should be taken to ensure the safety of the community and the purity of the environment.

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