Africa-Press – Rwanda. An investigation has been launched into an illegal mine accident in Huye district, as six workers, including three students, remain trapped in the tunnels.
The accident occurred on April 19 in Kinazi sector, Gahana cell, and despite the deployment of two caterpillars to search for those trapped in an 80-metre deep mine, the victims are yet to be found and rescued.
Huye district officials have stated that they were not aware of this mine established four years ago, as the person behind it masqueraded as a water source explorer to supply clean water to the residents.
The types of minerals that were being excavated have not yet been established, and some of the workers told the media that they do not know their main employer except for their supervisor, who was in charge of payment. They said that the excavated materials would be loaded and carried away during the night.
An investigation is being carried out since the illegal mining was carried out in the presence of local leaders. “Probe has started, and we will share the outcomes once complete,” said Ange Sebutege, Mayor of Huye district.
The Head of Regulation and Inspection at Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), Narcisse Dushimana, also confirmed that the investor or employer behind the illegal mining has not yet been established.
“I am now at the scene of the accident, and rescue activities continue as the victims are still trapped in the tunnels. The employer is not yet known and discovered. The workers told us that someone called Leonard Nteziryayo, who was their workmate, was in charge of wage payment. There are still challenges because local leaders and residents do not report any suspected activities,” he said. Each worker was getting Rwf2,500 per day.
It is said that the owner of the land where the illegal mining was being carried out was given support to build a decent house, although it is not yet complete. “The kinds of minerals that were being explored are also not yet known because we didn’t find them at this site,” Dushimimana added, saying “RIB in partnership with police officials have launched an investigation.”
“We have realized that residents and local leaders are hiding information. It is not understandable how the activity has been there for four years, and people have no information about it and who initiated it,” he said.
The incident has raised concerns about the lack of regulation in the mining sector, especially illegal mining activities that pose a significant risk to the lives of workers. The Rwandan government has been making efforts to regulate the mining sector to improve its contribution to the country’s economic development and ensure the safety and well-being of its workers.
The ongoing investigation into the Huye mine accident is an opportunity to address the issue of illegal mining and take necessary measures to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. It is crucial to ensure that all mining activities are carried out legally and with proper safety measures to protect the lives and well-being of workers.