Residents of Musikoma in Bungoma engaged in stone quarrying are appealing to both levels of government to regularly inspect quarries to ensure they do not have lose rocks or ground that may pose a risk to miners.
Peter Wafula who earns a living mining stones at Wabukhe Musikoma quarry says a quarry is one of the most dangerous areas to work in due the high fatality rate including falls, lots of dust, noise and dangerous materials that pose many risks for workers on site.
He said that despite a number of legislations meant to protect the health and safety of workers at quarry sites being in place, they are not implemented and remain just that, stashed away on shelves.
According to him and others interviewed, many workers at the quarry have fallen from lose rocks and suffered injuries.
He added that the deafening noise that comes from daily stone crushing is another common occupational hazard experienced at quarries that those working there and living in adjacent areas have painfully learned to live with.
Petronila Nyongesa, a 63 years old stone crusher broke and deformed her hand in 2013 after being hit by a stone at the quarry.
With no other option, the woman has after recovering had to continue working but is compelled to use one hand to carry out her duties at the site.
Nyongesa told KNA that she has to toil to take care of a sick daughter, her grandchildren and her 73 year old husband who is too frail to work.
“I crash three wheelbarrows of stones in a day, each wheelbarrow costs sh.80 so in a day I make sh.240 which hardly meets my obligations.
Getrude Nafuna Juma, another crusher, developed chest pains after she was hit by a stone chip on her chest in the process of stone crushing leaving her with a scar on the chest area.
“Working here is now a great challenge since I can’t wake up early like I used to or work for long due to persistent pains. I am a widow and a bread winner of my family so I have to do this,” she said.
Wafula explained that the quarry has led to the death of several people singling out his mother, Joyce Nambaya who died in 2019 after a big stone rolled over her and broke her ribs while working at the site, she passed on while undergoing treatment.
“My mother’s death led my father into depression and he died five months later,” Wafula said.
The residents are appealing to the government to intervene and help them acquire protective gear to minimize the risks.
By Dishon Amanya and Lydia Wanaswa