Members of the Murang’a Municipal Board backed by national government administrators on Wednesday halted operations of quarries located in the Kandundu area near Murang’a town.
The members expressed concern that mining of building stones in the quarries has been going on despite cries from the locals who claimed that the activities have negatively affected their daily lives.
Area Assistant County Commissioner Esther Muthoni said they had issued warnings to the operators of the quarries severally but the mining has been going on.
“Since January, we have been calling owners of these quarries to stop operations but it seems they defied. Today we have come accompanied by officers of the county government to indefinitely close activities in these facilities,” said the ACC.
She ordered all the workers of the quarries to leave saying the owners were operating without required documents.
“Locals have been decrying operations in these quarries. The mining has encroached on people’s residential houses putting them at risk of collapsing.” said Muthoni.
She continued, “No operations will be allowed until the owners of the quarries acquire legal documents and adhere to stipulated guidelines manning excavation of stones.”
Chairman of the board’s committee for finance and administration James Waweru said the excavation of stones has been going on in an area marked as residential.
While calling for total closure of the quarries, Waweru claimed that change of use of the land from residential to mining has not been done.
In the area, he noted, there were more than eight quarries and some have already been abandoned after exhausting the stones.
“Quarries where they have exhausted removing of stones have been left uncovered. They are also not fenced thus putting lives of the locals at danger of falling into deep excavation holes,” remarked Waweru.
Another member of the board Bernard Muia wondered how the owners of the quarries continued to operate without the required documents.
“It’s unfortunate these people are operating without a license from NEMA, a permit from the county government among other documents,” he noted.
“It’s worrying as the miners have encroached on residential homes and some houses are on the verge of collapsing. Despite the quarries employing hundreds of people, we have no option other than closing them,” he added.
Martha Njeri, a local resident, observed that the quarries have led to pollution in the area saying the revenue being collected from the facilities could not compensate for destruction of the environment caused by the mines.
She said activities in the quarries were on 24 hour thus causing noise and dust pollution especially during nights.
Njeri asked the relevant authorities to completely stop the excavation of stones in the area saying the land is for residential purposes.
Some of the workers at the quarries decried closure of the facilities saying it would leave them jobless and asked the authorities to be fair when handling the matter.
One of the workers Tony Gichane said he has been working in the quarries since last year and those concerned should solve the matter amicably and allow them to continue with their work.
“We are about 1, 000 workers and after closure of the quarries, we have nowhere to get our daily bread. Let our employer get the needed documents and we hope he will not be hindered from acquiring the licenses,” he remarked.
By Bernard Munyao