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NOT SAFE

Nema warns against illegal mining in Kwale

Three people have died in less than three months while crushing stones.

In Summary

• The warning follows the closure of Maweni quarry in Msambweni after three people died from accidents within three months.

• The quarry was closed indefinitely and residents have criticised the government officials for the order.

Nema county director Godfrey Wafula at Maweni quarry in Msambweni on October, 2020.
Nema county director Godfrey Wafula at Maweni quarry in Msambweni on October, 2020.
Image: SHABAN OMAR
Nema and other government officials at Maweni quarry in Kwale on October, 2020.
Nema and other government officials at Maweni quarry in Kwale on October, 2020.
Image: SHABAN OMAR

The National Environment Management Authority has warned Kwale miners against operating unlicensed quarries.

The warning follows the closure of Maweni quarry in Msambweni after three people died from accidents within three months.

The quarry was closed indefinitely and residents have criticised the government officials for the order.

On Tuesday last week, two men died after the quarry collapsed. A woman had previously been buried alive while crushing stones there.

Nema county director Godfrey Wafula said the site will remain closed until an environmental assessment was conducted to ensure the safety of both the workers and residents.

“Small-scale miners, this quarry is no longer safe for you. I would prefer you shift to the approved ones as we try to find amicable solutions to avert further disasters,” he said.

Over 45 local miners depend on Maweni stone harvesting site.

Wafula said the quarries in the area were a threat to the environment and residents, especially during the rainy season when the ground is weak and slippery.

The officer said they are keen om protecting lives and the environment from destruction.

He said necessary measures must be taken to prevent ecological deterioration, pollution and meet maximum safety requirements before the quarry is reopened.

“Entry and good exit points, well-structured roads and proper plans on how to rehabilitate the disused land must be laid down before any operations resume on this site,” he said.

Wafula advised the residents to look for alternative sources of income.

He warned that mining in Maweni quarry was strongly prohibited and anyone found will be arrested and prosecuted.

Residents pleaded with the government to give them ample time to evacuate their belongings, including the remaining excavated stones.

“We are not disagreeing with the orders but they should at least let us pick our gravel as we look for other means of survival because mining was the only thing we had,” Peter James said.