Mara — AFRICAN Barrick Gold (ABG) would fully execute the Villages Benefits Implementation Agreements (VBIA) signed between North Mara Gold Mine and local communities late in 2011, ABG's Vice-President for Corporate Affairs, Mr Deo Mwanyika has said.
The mining firm has already started spending millions of shillings to finance community projects as part of implementation of the agreement, a move that has impressed the Deputy Ministers for Minerals, Mr Stephen Masele and his counterpart in charge of Environment in the Vice-President's Office Charles Kitwanga.
Both ministers hailed the initiatives during their joint tour of the mine and the surrounding villages on Friday. "Today we are witnessing ABG fulfilling its promises to local communities. This will help to enhance relations between the mine and local people. I hope other promises will be fulfilled soon and there will be harmony," Deputy Minister Kitwanga said shortly after inaugurating a water pump at Nyamwaga village.
Mr Kitwanga said the company has allocated about 26bn/- to finance community projects under the deal that has been widely hailed by local leaders, ordinary people and Tarime district authorities. During the same occasion, ABG's Mwanyika observed that the firm is determined to fulfill all promises it has made to villages near the mine to create harmony and avoid conflicts with the local people.
"We are building 16 bore holes and this is just to show that we intend to keep our promises," Mr Mwanyika told the visiting ministers. "At the moment we are using a truck to provide almost 90,000 litres of water to local communities for free on a daily basis and we will drill two boreholes in every village in the next three years. "We have short and long term solutions," he said.
The ministers also inaugurated Sungusungu health centre that has undergone major rehabilitation at the cost of about 350,000 US dollars and were shown to a classroom at Nyangoto primary school and inspected part of 1,000 desks that have been donated by ABG to 10 public schools surrounding the mine, a few weeks ago.
"This is testimony that ABG is working closely with the government. I am very happy that since morning we have seen a number of water and education projects," said Deputy Minister Masele. "But of more interest is the fact there is harmony and local communities have started to regard the mine as a friend," he said.
Accompanied by Tarime District Commissioner, Mr John Henjewele and local leaders, the ministers also inspected construction of several modern classrooms and teachers' houses at Ingwe ward secondary school.