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Gold rush: Museveni deploys army in Abim as residents protest

State minister for Energy and Mineral Development Phionah Nyamutoro with soldiers and officials at the site

State minister for Energy and Mineral Development Phionah Nyamutoro with soldiers and officials at the site

President Yoweri Museveni has ordered the immediate closure of gold mine sites and deployment of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) in Okemer village, Abim distritct in northern Uganda.

According to the minister of state for Energy and Mineral Development, Phiona Nyamutoro, Museveni ordered the deployment at mine sites in Alerek and Chamkok sub-counties to allow the formalization of mining activities in the area.

From around mid March to early May, 2024, Alerek alone recorded an influx of over 3,000 people including businesspeople from neighbouring Kenya and South Sudan rushing to mine gold in the area, raising security and environmental concerns.

The artisanal gold miners have been selling a gram of gold at the site at Shs 300,000, a lucrative venture that prompted the gold rush. Now Museveni wants the ministry of Energy to expedite sourcing a potential investor to develop the gold mine site for enhanced benefits to the host community.

Nyamutoro explained that the president directed immediate closure of the gold mine due to lack of a clean water source, lack of sanitation facilities, presence of pregnant mothers and school going children from Alerek and Loyoroit primary schools.

"We received a report of different speculations. At first, I think they must have been a misundertsanding of why are they telling us to first vacate the area? There was only one reason to help you formalise legally. What you were doing there is against the law. And the soldiers are not just here to help but to offer security. Neither the soldiers nor the government have any ill motives towards the gold in Abim," said Nyamutoro.

Abim resident district commissioner (RDC) James Shilaku, also the district security committee chairperson said that the army will maintain presence at the site to safeguard the local population from insecurity that may arise from the gold rush activities until proper operating guidelines are established.

However, the chairperson of the newly formed Kakoka Artisanal Gold Miners Association protested the president's directive to close the mine site, arguing that it's a source of livelihood to the youth, men and women in the area. Equally, Julius Cedric Abala, 78 year-old elder in the area also protested the closure, describing it as a clandestine move by the government to enable the military to secretly extract gold to the detriment of the local population.

Abala argued that since 2013, herds of wandering elephants and buffaloes from Kidepo Valley National Park have been invading the Alerek community and destroying their livelihoods while the government kept mute, offering no response but now that gold has been discovered it pretends to care about their livelihood and security.

"Actually, animals like elephants and the buffalos started [raiding] this place way in 2013, and last year was the worst time. Crops in this community was eaten by the elephants. So this community is highly starving. During that time when the community was starving so much, no minister, not even yourself [Nyamutoro] came to this place. But because you're talking about the gold today, you're now here which is okay. However you're welcome," said Abala.

According to Nyamutoro, the amount of gold deposits in the area remains unknown, adding that geologists from the ministry have been tasked to produce a technical report on the status of the precious mineral and devise recommendations on how safely the artisanal miners could operate.

Notably, in 2015 President Museveni issued a government ban on unrefined gold and other minerals after the country recently unearthed a monumental gold discovery of 31 million metric tons of gold valued at $2 trillion.

Comments

0 #1 Lakwena 2024-05-13 13:50
In other words, who in is/her right state of mind can still deny that since 1981 or before; it is only the Ugandans at whom the NRA/UPDF have been pointing the guns at?

Else, whether in DR Congo, Central Africa and/or South Sudan; except at Ugandan citizens, at which foreign enemies has our "Problem of Africa", Gen Tibuhaburwa deployed the UPDF and pulled out war machines: Tanks, fighter jets, Helicopter Gun-ships, machine guns, etc. and shot at?

NONE!

In other words, Ugandans are Gen Tiuhaburwa's mortal first and and last enemies, whom he has been resisting and ruthlessly fighting for the last 40 years and counting, over their abundant natural resources. (wealth).
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0 #2 Lakwena 2024-05-13 14:01
Otherwise, how did the man arrive at telling us off on 26th Jan 2017; that he is neither our servant nor employee?

it is because, the man thinks we are his slaves.

That is also how and why, last month he started deploying the UPDF soldiers to enforce the EFLIS Tax collection process.
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0 #3 Zaitun John 2024-05-13 16:59
I wonder what kind of country Uganda has become, leave aside the so-called democratically elected leaders!

Is Uganda really a country ruled by leaders who care for the wel-being of its people and the development of the country or, they are simply men and women ready to use any means to amass wealth at the expense of Ugandans?

" An influx of over 3,000 people including business people from neighbouring Kenya and South Sudan rushing to mine gold in the area," What a hard joke that is!

Our so-called leader have turned the country into "An East African far west", where any one can come and have a portion of mineral-rich land and claim its ownership.

Yes the so-called First Family has set the example- needless to know where these men and women come from.

Needles to say, Uganda has now become a dead elephant attracting carnivors from every game park and reserve to participate in sharing the carcass. Its only nice for the so-called liberators!!
What a pain!
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