Residents of Ramula sub location in Gem constituency are up in arms against plans to evict them to pave way for a multibillion shilling gold mining venture.
Through the Community Based Citizen Forum, the residents are accusing the ministry in charge of mining and local leadership of colluding with the private developer to coerce the locals into leaving their ancestral land without proper sensitization and citizen participation.
Led by the forum patron Abala Wanga, the residents said no amount of intimidation and coercion would make them surrender their lands, adding that as a community, they must be accorded choice of agreeing or rejecting the project.
Speaking during a community meeting held at the Gem constituency industrial park in Ramula trading centre, Wanga said that the local community could handle the mining; processing and sale of the mineral if given capacity building and supported by the government.
“The local community can mine their own gold and sell it. They only need to be technically trained and endowed,” said Wanga who urged the government to take up the challenge that would ensure that the community benefits more from its resources instead of displacing them.
Wanga further called on the government and the potential investors to lay bare the estimated value of the gold in the area and how the community will benefit.
The patron, who is also the Kisumu City Manager, said that gold mining was a hazardous affair that pollutes the environment hence the need for wider consultation.
He said that the Forum had hired lawyers to file petition in court to halt mining in the area until proper negotiations were held.
Wanga called on the local leadership, especially chiefs, their assistants and village elders to stop being misused to advance the investors agenda by coercing and threatening the locals to agree to surrender their land parcels in exchange of money.
Last week, a meeting between representatives of Shanta Gold limited and the community held at the Ramula health centre grounds ended in disarray after the residents stood their ground saying they would not accept relocation to pave way for the mining after it emerged that four villages were likely to be affected by the project.
Information available in the company’s website states that the 2023 exploration in West Kenya has prioritized the expansion of the drilling programme at Ramula that aims for new discoveries and increase in mineral resource.
“In March, 2022, Shanta announced a maiden resource estimate for the Ramula target of 434 Koz grading of 2.08g/t which increased the total resources at our west Kenya project by a significant 37 per cent to 1.6 million oz,” reads the report.
By Philip Onyango