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DCC Order closure of gold mining in Marang’ar forest

Deputy County Commissioner David Boen of Pokot South has issued a directive to stop all illegal gold mining operations in Marang’ar area situated within the government forest between Tangasia and Tapach location.

During his visit to the mining site, Boen expressed concern over the miners’ disregard for the environment and potential harm caused to both humans and animals.

He observed that miners in the region put their lives at risk in search of a few grams of gold, all in the pursuit of striking it rich.

He expressed concerned about the environmental, health, safety risk linked to the ongoing illegal gold mining activities in the forest area between Tangasia and Tapach location.

The administrator ordered residents to stop any further mining in the area until they receive approval from the appropriate government authorities.

He said their objective in shutting down illegal operations and keeping out miners was to prevent incidents leading to death and injuries in mines.

“During our inspection of the mining sites, we noticed that miners were digging deep holes in order to extract gold, disregarding the adverse environmental consequences of their artisanal activities. Unfortunately, we experienced a tragic loss of life last year when an individual was buried under soil as a result of illegal gold mining. After we visited the region, it became evident that this activity poses a significant danger to human life and there is need to stop further illegal mining activity in the area to avert further loss of lives,” Boen noted.

DCC Boen highlighted that the gold mines have not only resulted in an increase in child labour, as children disregard the risks and laws prohibiting work under the age of 18, but also contributed to the occurrence of early marriages.

Furthermore, DCC Boen noted that there have been reports of young boys discontinuing their education and young girls opting to marry miners, along with marriages falling apart because of the impact of mining activities.

Additionally, he emphasized that the ongoing influx of miners in the area has severely compromised sanitation and hygiene, as miners openly defecate, posing a potential threat of a cholera outbreak.

He encouraged the locals to adopt pyrethrum and potato farming as a viable income option, while also discouraging illegal gold mining practices that posed a threat to the environment, health, and safety of the community.

He said Tapach area in West Pokot County is famed for pyrethrum with the highest content and if residents could focus on farming, they would be able to earn a living and avoid the dangers posed by illegal mining.

“The Tapach region has a rich volcanic soil that possesses immense potential for cultivating pyrethrum with the highest pyrethrin content in the world. Secondly, the region is suitable for cultivation of potato,” DCC Boen said.

Pokot South Sub County Police OCPD Said Shungi emphasized that the Tapach area plays a crucial role as a water catchment area while noting that police would not tolerate any illegal mining activities that could harm the region’s water source.

“Such activities which lack government approval will not be allowed,” OCPD Shungi said.

He expressed their desire for the local community to participate in lawful livelihood activities instead of resorting to illicit endeavors that could pose greater risks to the environment, health, and their own well-being.

Forest Station Manager for Lelan Ward in the Kenya Forest Service Lenan Division Gordon Anyiko expressed gratitude to the on-site government officials for promptly informing the government authorities about the environmental deterioration caused by miners in the region and potential consequences that may arise if not controlled.

Anyiko stated that the local community has given their consent that would assist in the refilling of all the mining open holes with soil that were excavated during gold mining in order to prevent any incidents of injuries and loss of lives.

He cautioned about the detrimental effects of forest destruction and urged them to actively monitor and report any illegal activities such as mining, charcoal burning, overgrazing, and other unauthorized actions taking place inside the forest.

Tangasia Location Chief Samuel Katumon urged residents to embrace the closure of mining sites in a positive manner.

He emphasized that the decision to shut down mining sites was made to protect the well-being of both animals and humans, as well as preserve the environment and promote good health.

The chairman for peace initiative in Pokot South Sub County Clement Kilipa encouraged people to avoid activities that brought about more harm than good.

He encouraged residents to explore alternative sources of income such as selling of milk, potatoes, and pyrethrum farming.

A survivor of a tragic gold mining incident Emmanuel Ting’anur recounted his harrowing experience of narrowly escaping death when the gold mine collapsed.

He described the entire ordeal as horrific, emphasizing how being trapped in a gold mine leaves one with nothing but hope, prayers, and the agonizing wait to either be rescued or face death, entirely dependent on the mercy of the rescuers.

“To those involved in illegal mining activities, I want to encourage you that you stop it and wait for experts’ approval on where to engage your activities. Failure to do so could result in losses and further harm than good,” Ting’anur warned.

By Anthony Melly and Erickson Kiprotich


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