A new gold rush is taking shape in Trans Mara, where sweaty miners are following tunnels left abandoned by Europeans 60 years ago.
Those leading the fray are experienced miners from Migori but they now have to pay handsome royalties to the Maasai landowners.
Silvanus Agwaro came to Lolgorian Town in 2003 from Migori after getting information there is a lot of gold in Lolgorian, and “very few miners” to extract it.
“On a good day I can make up to Sh60,000 after which I pay the people who work under me and the land owners, but on a bad day we go home empty handed. The money I have gotten over the years has enabled me to cater for the needs of my family members,” he says.
Joseph ole Ntise, a land owner, says that locals did not know they have gold in their farms but were enlightened by miners from Migori.
They now receive adequate royalties from the miners.
The gold rush attracted the attention of Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, who visited the area last year on a “fact-finding mission”and promised the supply the miners with protective gear and better equipment.
Chairman of the Lolgorian Small Scale Miners and Community Mining Association Symon Odoyo said the minister has not kept his promise.
“He promised to ensure that we get compressors to drill and drain water from the wells during the rainy season because we cannot carry out our work since the holes are flooded,” says Odoyo. “Our members do the mining, which is often tedious and requires a lot of perseverance. After that they sell it to middlemen at between Sh2,600 and Sh3,000 per gramme.”
Joseph Mboko, a worker in the mines, says they face several challenges including injuries. Some workers have also died when the mines caved in.