Scores of stone miners have been left jobless after Murang’a county government moved to close operations of several quarries near Murang’a town.
Last week, the devolved administration closed operations of the quarries on grounds that they did not meet stipulated safety and health protocols.
Some quarries are said to operate without latrines and the workers who extract building stones, work without wearing safety wear.
The quarry workers on Monday protested the move saying the ban has left them without a source of livelihoods.
They said that for a long time they have been trying to get food for their families especially during this time the country is faced by Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the workers, Bernard Maina observed that the closure has left many young people jobless as many depended on transportation of building stones from the quarries.
Last week, Murang’a law court granted orders to close the quarries after the county public health department sought a directive to close them following complaints from local residents.
In the affidavit, the public health stated the operators had no protective gears, lack of fencing of the quarries, encroachment of public roads among other requirements.
In a visit to the quarry mines, the youth wore sad faces blaming the government for the closure of the seven mines which are barely two years old.
Maina said some quarries have attained the requirements and they should be allowed to operate again.
“The food kiosks around the mines operated by local women have also been closed, this is an economic threat to many of the families at the outskirts of Murang’a town and beyond,” said Maina.
The quarry operators alleged that the closure could be due to threat they posed on the established quarry mines in Ndarugo area near Thika, that lost market in the counties of Murang’a, Nyeri, Embu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Laikipia.
Chairman of the quarry operators Peter Nyamai appealed to the government to re-open the mines as they all have met the requirements.
Nyamai termed the closure as un procedural as the operators were not consulted as they are ready to address the shortcomings.
“The quarries per day generate between Sh.2.5 Million and Sh. 3.5 million, with more than 70 trucks transporting building stones to the counties of Kirinyaga, Embu, Nyeri and Laikipia,” said Nyamai.
He added that the county government was losing in excess of Sh.350,000 per day in revenue collected from the mines and stone transporters.
Murang’a Municipal Manager Fredrick Munyua confirmed closure of the mines saying their operations had not been certified by the authorities as procedures demanded.
“They will remain closed until the operators meet all the safety concerns. We will conduct inspection and ensure the quarries meet all requirements before they are allowed to resume operations”, said Munyua.
By Bernard Munyao