Lure of gold kills three men after mine collapses in Vihiga

Officials say the tunnels where the miners ventured were unsafe for operations

In Summary
  • The site is among many discovered in the area and where locals venture to make a living.
  • Two others were pulled out alive by residents who rushed to their rescue
Residents at the site where the goldmine collapsed in Vihiga county
Residents at the site where the goldmine collapsed in Vihiga county

At least three gold miners died after the walls of an underground mine collapsed in Manyatta Village, Vihiga county.

Police said two others escaped with injuries in the Thursday incident. They were pulled out alive and rushed to hospital.

The site is among many discovered in the area and where residents venture to make a living.

Officials, however, say the tunnels where the miners venture are unsafe for their operations.

County Commissioner Felix Watakila visited the site and called on the community to observe safety regulations, adding that they will launch a crackdown on all unlicensed mining activities.

“This incident could not have happened had we followed the laid down safety measures at such sites,” he said.

The officials said the miners were using heavy machines to crush stones in their artisanal activities, overlooking the environmental impact.

As part of efforts to address the menace, which is common at such sites in Migori, Kakamega, Nandi and Isiolo, government officials have always directed those involved in the mining activities to stop operations for the National Environmental Management Authority to conduct an environmental impact assessment to give the ecological guidelines before mining operations can resume.

Nema officials were directed to carry out the environmental impact assessment and give reports at the sites as part of efforts to address the safety measures.

The gold miners are also ordered to seek licences from all the relevant government authorities before embarking on the work.

They have been told to stop using heavy machinery at the sites. These machineries make the sites weak and unsafe for the miners.

The majority of the gold mining activities are done by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) miners who have been exposed to unsafe practices in the mining extraction processes.

Those engaged in extracting the precious mineral have always defied government bans on mining, especially during rainy seasons arguing that it is the only activity in the region that enables them to put food on the table.

For instance, Migori county in partnership with Impact Facility-NGO has embarked on a training session to train miners on safety measures and precautions during and after the extraction processes.

There have been clashes among groups at some of the sites over control of the businesses.

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