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Police’s Mineral Protection Unit steps fight against illegal mining

Uganda’s Mineral Protection Unit addressing the dangers of illegal mining to the miners in Buhweju district. (Photo by George Okello)

BUHWEJU– The Mineral Protection Unit of the Uganda Police Force is continuing to traverse the country in a bid to sensitize miners on the dangers of illegal mining.

The last four days, the campaign has been in the Western district of Buhweju.

The campaign is being done in conjunction with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

According to Mineral Protection Unit Commandant, SP Jesca Keigomba, the unit and the line ministry have embarked on a countrywide sensitization campaign in areas with minerals to address challenges of illegal mining.

“We have been around most parts of the country sensitizing the local artisan miners about the dangers of illegal mining that is taking place countrywide. We are also using this platform to tell them to form associations that can benefit both them and the government,” SP Keigomba said during her address to the locals of Katenga and Muti-Kijumbura in Bihanga Sub County, Buhweju District.

She cautioned the miners against the use of chemicals during mining and processing periods which she said is dangerous to the environment and human lives.

“Avoid using chemicals like cyanide mercury. They stay in the soil and mixes with water which is harmful to the environment and your lives. We will teach you new methods of mining and processing. Endeavor to have protective gears like helmets, gloves and gumboots,” she said.

The mineral miners have been asked to register with the government and acquire identity cards for easy identification. (Photo by George Okello)

She also advised the miners to have clear documentation and licenses saying minerals are being smuggled due to lack of proper organization.

“We want to have you registered and give you identity cards so that whoever will be in the mining area be identified by government. We should know who the directors of the mining sites are, their nationality, the workers being used and whether they have licenses or not,” she noted.

SP Keigomba also warned parents against using under age miners in the mining sites.

The Mineral Protection Unit was formed last year with the aim of sensitizing miners about the dangers of illegal mining.

Since its establishment, the Unit has established detaches in different districts and border points.

The districts with the Unit’s presence include Mubende, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Busia, Kisoro,Rubanda, Kabale and now, Buhweju.

Busia, Kikagati, Katuna and Bunagana are some of the border centers so far.

 

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