Abject poverty ruins miners’ dreams as middle men smile all the way to the bank

Majority of miners languish in poverty while brokers and cashing in huge profits. [ Picture: Courtesy]
Majority of miners languish in poverty while brokers and cashing in huge profits. [ Picture: Courtesy]

Gold miners in Nyatike are an unhappy lot.

While they are languishing in abject poverty, the middlemen are literally making a killing from their sweat, driving sleek vehicles at their expense.

Most local miners are not able to support their children acquire education as well as feed and clothe decently.

School dropout among children from Osiri Village is alarming as parents are unable to take them to school or fend for them. This has forced bright children who could end up being relied upon acquiring quality education to drop out and instead engage in gold prospecting at the expense of their education.

“We expect children from the region to be enrolled in school instead of toiling to support their families forcing them to indulge in activities that are ruining their future,” said one of the residents.

The region has few graduates as brilliant young women and men are forced to engage in mining at early age to eke a living.

Majority of the miners are living in grass thatched houses and often times fail to put food on the table after toiling a whole day searching for the elusive mineral.

The gold mining sector in Migori County has been ignored for long by previous and current governments. The miners have not received any assistance in terms of being provided with machines that could make prospecting the precious mineral easy.

The situation has been worsened by well-established foreigners who have invaded the region offering peanuts to the miners. These middle men are the ones dictating the market for mineral. They also end up reaping the profits as they sell the mineral at a very high price but buy very low.

The miners have failed to make it big because they are still using old traditional methods and the process of purifying the mineral is poor and primitive, making it difficult for them to maximize profits but also creating room for exploitation by foreign dealers.

Odhiambo Opiyo, whose father died out of frustration by dealers, has been in the business since early 1980s but has nothing to show for the duration he has engaged in gold mining.

A spot check revealed that the Government had ignored this viable sector that would have solved the high unemployment rate in the country.

For the prospectors to maximise profit, the Government should urgently address their needs by ensuring the provision of new technologies and modern machines.

It is shocking to see miners climbing down deep inside dark hole minus protective gear to ensure security and avoid suffocation while in the process of searching for the mineral deep underground.

Many have encountered serious challenges in the process of searching for gold and at times end up being buried alive by loose soil. The challenge of retrieving their bodies is even harder.

The government should enhance structural development in areas where mining activities are being undertaken to ease the operations of such trade as they carry out their daily actions.

Dealers from Tanzania have also invaded the region to buy heaps of leftovers which they later process and sell abroad at exorbitant prices.

Early this year, locals ganged up and pulled down a perimeter fence that had been erected by some greedy officials from national and county governments.

The irate locals claimed that sites that were fenced off had high deposits of quality mineral that they would not allow foreigners to exploit.

They appealed to Migori County Government to allocate funds to assist in acquiring modern technology that would enable them reap well.

Migori County Governor Okoth Obado is on record promising to import detectors to be used in knowing areas with rich gold mines. However, three years since he was elected, this is yet to be done.

Families from the region that have lost dear ones are hoping that the Government will come with a solution to make them compete favourably on economic issues with the rest of the world.

Apart from gold mining in Nyatike, fishing is another looming business in the region that also has impressive tourist sites. If the Government can urgently address some of the problems, Migori County would be ranked among counties with best reliable tourist attraction sites. This move will address the high rate of poverty and unemployment in the region.

There have also been reports published in the media of prospects of oil in the county. Fields have been discovered in certain areas along Lake Victoria like on Nyatike but the nothing final has been announced.

The locals expect the government to assist in establishing processing factories in the region to create employment to Kenyans to address idleness among youth.

They argued that once tangible processing factories have been set up in the area, Nyatike will compete with other developed regions effectively on economic progress as residents will have a sustainable source of livelihood.

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