Women suffer the blunt of limestone mining in Mwingi North

Women from limestone rich belt in Mwingi North Sub County are up in arms against their husbands for abandoning them after receiving hefty mining compensations.

Jackline Mutinda said that due to women’s lack of land ownership rights in the area,they suffered greatly as most husbands opted to spend the money alone leaving them empty handed.

Speaking to KNA on Sunday at Ngaaie in Mwingi North, Mutinda lamented that others married new wives leaving the former family languishing in poverty.

As women, we have suffered a lot and most of us have been left without pieces of land for farming activities, she said amid sobs.

Isaac Mutinda, an activist from Kituo cha Sheria said an immediate intervention needed to be done to ensure that the whole process of mining at Ngaaie limestone belt adheres to the Mining Act of 2016.

The skewed land compensation process was carried out by brokers and the parcels of land did not depict the actual size owned by the locals, added Mutinda.

Now, the residents of Ngaaie are calling upon the area Governor Charity Kaluki Ngilu to honour her promises and come to their rescue.

In response, Ngilu reiterated her resolve to make her promise good by ensuring that all minerals in the county were mined for the benefit of the locals.

My administration will work closely with the national government to ensure that minerals like coal and limestone are excavated to create wealth, said Ngilu during her inauguration.

A section of the residents who did not accept compensation money offered by Athi River Mining company after it was awarded a contract to mine limestone in the area are now living in fear, amid threats that their land might be taken forcibly.

This comes against a backdrop of claims that the company had hastened the process of compensation, in a bid to start mining in the area as soon as possible.

The Company was awarded the contract to mine limestone at the Ngaaie hill way back in 2013.

Since then, more than half of the 600 families which were projected to be affected by mining in the area have been paid their compensation money as it had been agreed in the agreement signed between them and the company.

A liaison committee, which was supposed to spearhead the interests of the community, was elected in 2013 and chaired by the current Mwingi North MP Eng. Paul Nzengu.

An agreement was reached between the Liaison committee and ARM for residents to be paid S50,000 per acre as compensation.

The main challenge which faced ARM at first was the issue of land demarcation and lack of title deeds among the residents.

Proper documentation was crucial in determining the amount of compensation to be awarded to each of the families in the affected area.

Due to this, the national government sent surveyors in the area who worked alongside another private surveyor working for the company to undertake land demarcation and pave way for issuing of title deeds to residents.

However, about 60 families did not agree with these terms and ever since they have been in disagreement with the company.

They are claiming that the mining process as stipulated by law was not followed as ARM chose to buy and own the land completely at a throw away price instead of leasing the land from residents.

The Ngaaie Focus Community Based Organisation (NFCBO) posits that the whole process of land demarcation was questionable as most of the land was subdivided in the absence of the real owners.

Josephat Kitheka, the Secretary to the (NFCBO) says that initially ARM was following the mining process and agreements were being made stipulated by law but midway they changed and decided to purchase the land privately owned by it.

Source: Kenya News Agency