The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kisii Soapstone Miners Undergo Safety Training

SOAPSTONE miners and quarry owners in Tabaka, Gucha South district have been trained on safe mining to avoid accidents. The training for 45 miners and owners of quarries was held ahead of the forthcoming Africa Stones Talk sculpture symposium to be held at Tabaka in August. "As we prepare for the forthcoming sculpture symposium, we expect miners to practice safe mining to avert accidents," said Gerrard Motondi who is the coordinator of the symposium. "The training was aimed at creating awareness on safety, modern mining methods and tools as well as improving productivity," said Motondi who trained the miners. The training was done at Tabaka, Gotichaki, Nyatike and Nyabigena quarries in South Mugirango constituency.

The training was sponsored by SITE Enterprise Promotions, an organisation working at the soapstone region to promote livelihoods of soapstone artisans. "Some of the basic safety gears are cheaply available but miners ignorantly operate without them risking their lives. We want everybody to be safe," added Motondi.

Motondi said preparations for symposium were almost complete and they were planning to promote it at the World Fair Trade Organization conference to be held in Mombasa on May 22.

Soapstone handcraft products dominate the fair with most of the members being from Kisii. The members are Smolart, Kisac, Undugu, Kisii Soapstone Carvers Cooperative, Tarazo Africana among others, said Motondi.

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