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Mubende gold miners given a two hours ultimatum to vacate the mines

 Over 50,000 artisanal miners operating in Mubende district were ordered to vacate the gold miners within a period of two hours on Friday 04/08/2017.

This operation to evict all the artisanal gold miners in Mubende district is was led by Col Balikuddembe Lutaaya commander 1st division in Uganda People’s Defence forces.

The miners were told to leave the mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties but were not given ample time to rescue their mining equipment.

A troop of Uganda peoples defence forces and Uganda police forces totaling 750 people, 4 tear gas vehicles and tanks were stationed in the gold mining  sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties  forcing the gold miners and other people operating business with this location to pack their belongings to leave the mines.

Mr Sempowo Robert the chairman Mubende artisanal miners explained  that they has been woken up by the sound of lorries moving into the mines that were packed with Uganda peoples defence forces soldiers and Uganda police forces officers who ordered them to vacate the premises within two hours and by midday no single person  was to be found in the mines.

Sempowo added, “Currently most of the miners in this area are packing up their belonging to leave the premises ,others have abandoned their property for lack of money especially the heavy machinery  while other are selling the property at a giveaway price so that they can live this place before it’s too late.”

“Government is not fair, because there was no official communication to neither the leaders or to the gold miner  to vacte the gold mines , we have been relying on rumours and hear say, its a shock to us all our efforts have been shattered one investor. ”Sempowo expressed.

Ivan Male Kawuma, the  Project Coordinator Singo Artisanal Small Scale Miners Association said that “we are being treated like non Ugandans, how can we become like refugees in our own country. There is no communication, no compensation for the money invested in our business running in the gold mines. This has been our main source of livelihood and we don’t know what we are going to do next.”

 

His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the president of Uganda in his letter addressed to the hon. members of parliament Mubende district dated 28/June/2017 made it clear that;” those artisanal miners who invaded where the investor had excavations must straight away get out.

The evictions folowed the presidential directive to evict all the artisanal miners in Mubende district on grounds that the  people in the mines are not registered, government doesn’t know the amount of gold they are getting out from this area, the people operating in this area are not Ugandans and increased environmental degradation which  is a threat to the nearby communities.

However the permanent secretary under ministry of energy and mineral development  Dr.Stephen. R. Sabalija in the letter dated 02/08/2017 entitled Statement on illegal mining activities in Uganda explains that government is putting in place intervention measures whereby all the local artisans will be registered in all mining areas of Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties so that they can be organized into groups that shall ultimately be regulated.

This intervention is anticipated to take 3 months and will subsequently help the ministry of  Energy and Mineral development to re-organise mining activities supported by Uganda police force, Uganda people’s defence forces, Directorate of citizenship and immigration control under the Ministry of  Internal Affairs and will be led by Ministry of  Energy and Mineral Development.

Josephine Nabaale

Oil.Uganda@actionaid.org