22 June 2012

Tanzania: Curbing Mine Intruders in North Mara

Tarime — THE number of intruders in North Mara Gold Mine who allegedly steal gold sand has remained to be one of the major challenges facing the mining sector for several years now.

Situated at Nyamongo area in Tarime District, Mara Region, North Mara is one of the gold mines operated by African Barrick Gold (ABG), which is a foreign gold company.

The intruders come from the villages surrounding the mine, as well as from the neighbouring districts. This is according to the Tarime Special Police Zone, Regional Police Commander (RPC) Assistant Commissioner (ACP) Justus Kamugisha. "The intruders come from different parts of the country.

They are not only from Nyamongo, but from Rorya, Serengeti and Musoma districts. Some are also from the neighbouring regions such as Mwanza", ACP Kamugisha says. The number of intruders invading the mine fluctuates from time to time. Some people have been arrested and taken to Tarime district court, charged with invading the troubled mine in the recent days. The intruders invade the mine pits while armed with traditional weapons such as machetes, according to the RPC.

They sometimes use the weapons to attack one another, he says. "A total of 97 people were arrested at the mine pits a few days ago and their cases are still pending in court. We are forced to arrest them because the number of intruders invading the mine has been increasing daily", the regional police chief says. ACP Kamugisha expresses concern over schools boys and girls who have also been taking part invading the mine instead of spending such time to pursue their studies with some seriousness.

"Students are also seen invading the mine especially during weekends and holidays", the RPC points out. Police forces educate the communities living near the mine to stop engaging in criminal activities as well as exposing criminals under the force's community policy initiative. But such efforts are yet to bear fruit because many people have been reluctant to stop the habit which is now considered as the major source of income of some youths residing in the villages near the mine.

"We will continue to provide education and also arrest all those who will be arrested while invading the mine. It is illegal and the law will take its course" RPC Kamugisha insists. He reminds all communities residing near the mine to realize that ABG has legal licence to operate the mine. People should stop invading the mine otherwise we will arrest and take them to court. They have to follow laid down procedures to air any complainants," RPC Kamugisha says.

Frequent invasions at the mine have prompted the Canadian miner to construct a multi-million wall fence in a bid to protect its property. The government is still planning to remove all police officers guarding the mine 24 house as soon as the mining company strengthens its security measures, says ACP Kamugisha. "We will remove our cops from inside the mine once the company enhances its security measures", the regional top police cop says.

In May last year, five civilians were shot dead after hundreds of intruders invaded the mine and clashed with anti-riot police. ABG is also taking a number of measures aimed at enhancing good relationship with the surrounding communities. They include signing of recent signing of 10 million US (about 16 billion/-) three years deal tapped Village Implementation Benefits Agreement(VIBA), that is due to see massive investment on social services delivered in villages located near the mine.

The mine also supplies about 90,000 litres of safe and clean water to the local communities on daily basis free of charge, a move which has saved women and school children at Nyangoto and Kewanja villages from walking many kilometres to fetch water. The project did cost over 84m/- shillings by late last year, according to the mine community affairs' department. The mining company is also financing rehabilitation of a huge health public health centre, to improve health service delivery in the area. Attached picture. Tarime/Rorya special police zone Regional Police Commander (RPC) Justus Kamugisha.

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