Mbeya — THE conflict simmers in Mbeya Region between sand miners, stone crashers and the city leadership following a new regulation demanding that the miners should have licences.
Recently in the region, about 2,000 small-scale miners accompanied by operators of trucks which transport sand and gravel staged a demonstration to the city council offices at Uhindini where they presented their claims to the authority. They claimed that the regulation was oppressive and that it only aimed at stopping them from engaging in mining activities which help them earn income to sustain their lives.
Speaking to reporters here, the drivers and miners said the aim of the demonstration they staged was to oppose the recent decision reached by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals of taxing owners of the lorries which engaged in transporting sandstones. They said that imposing a tax of 2,500/- per trip was an unfair move that made diggers fail to benefit from the activity.
They claimed that lorries were being held and fined when found operating without paying such amount, although they actually earned very little money.
The official in Mbeya region dealing with mineral issues, Mr Jumanne Mohamed, pointed out that the one who was supposed to pay the royalty was a miner and not truck operators.
"The ministry through the circular passed on to all miners, said it was the diggers who were supposed to pay and they were not allowed to operate without licence. This 2,500/- is to be paid by these miners and not truck operators," Mr Mohamed explained. He said that once the miner paid the 2,500/- he would be given a receipt which is supposed to be handed to the truck operator, in order to enable him transport the sand without interference.
He insisted that demonstrations would not help as the law has already been passed, thus it was mandatory for the miners to abide by rules so they carry out their activities without interference from the authorities.