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Heavy rains hamper sand harvesting in Migori

The heavy rainstorm currently pounding Migori County and its environs has rendered hundreds of sand harvesters in the region jobless and beggars.

The effects of the rains have been severely felt by the sand harvesters in Nyatike constituency where rivers Migori and Kuja have burst their banks, flooding tens of hectares of land under sand mining within the region.

At Luanda village where the youth have been engaging in sand mining to earn a decent living, the men and women have now turned to loitering in market centers as they watch flood waters ruin their places of work.

The chairperson of the Luanda sand harvesters’ association Mr. John Owino says that the bad economic situation in the area caused by the rainstorm in recent days has left them begging for food and other basic needs.

Owino, 34 years old, who doubles up as a pastor, says that although the job does not pay much, it is worth venturing in because it can cater to their necessities.

“We have been able to at least educate and provide healthcare to our families from money earned from selling sand instead of sitting idle and blaming the government for lack of proper jobs,” he confirmed during an interview with him this week.

Due to the high demand for sand from Nyatike for the construction of various forms of structures, the area has been able to earn revenue from the sale of sand.  

But now, the business is ruined in the region by flood waters that have covered all the mining points and denied Lorrie’s access to collect even sand that has been mined to aid in the construction sites around and the far-lung regions.

“Presently, this problem has now hit the construction sector from as far as Migori, Isebania, Rongo, and even Kisii towns that depend on our sand daily,” said Mr. Willis Oketch, another sand harvester from Angugo areas, of Nyatike who also admitted the rains have rendered them jobless.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), sand is the second-largest exploited resource after water, with 50 billion tons extracted from lakes, riverbeds, coastlines, and deltas each year.

The sand that’s ideally sized, shaped, and cut out for construction comes from shorelines and the beds of rivers and lakes. This is also where to find silica sand, which is melted down to make glass for everything from windshields to smartphone screens.

The major challenge in the sand harvesting business, according to Oketch, is the long rains in April, May, November, December, and January. He says that during these months the water tables are always high making it impossible for them to do sand harvesting.

“We are always rendered jobless during these rainy months like what is now facing us here”, explained Oketch.  

Truck driver, Tom Ambani 36-year-old who buys and ferries the sand to customers in various towns and markets within Migori County and outside of the County, says that they have been forced to park their trucks for lack of minerals in the past two weeks

As a result, many of the drivers and turn boys, whose numbers run into hundreds, have been rendered jobless and now facing serious economic hardship with their families.

“We used to earn Sh 1,000 to Sh 2,000 per day from our employers who have now withdrawn their vehicles from work because of the bad state of the roads and lack of sand to ferry. This income is now cut off from us and we are just loitering around with nothing to do,” rued Mr. Ambani.

 “I have to transfer these charges down to the sand harvesters so that we can share the costs for me to make a profit”, said Amani. He says that the sand harvesters do not usually like the idea but that is how business is done.

 Not spared also in this circle of hardship caused by the heavy rains is the county government whose revenue base from Lorries ferrying sand has dropped to the lowest ebb.

By George Agimba 

 

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