By Andrew Irumba
There is uncertainty and fear among the Karimojong in Moroto district following the heavy deployment of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) in gold and marble mines there.
SpyUganda has leanrt that all mining sites in Rupa and Tapac sub-counties in Moroto district are being manned by army and police officers.
It is said that in some areas, access to the mining sites is prohibited to both residents and their leaders.
In Moroto, the LCV Chairperson, Andrew Napaja Keem was denied access to the DAO Marble Mining Site last year.
Other leaders in Nabilatuk, including the district youth chairperson, reported denial to the mining site in his district.
Joseph Ngoli, a staff from South Karamoja Regional Intelligence Office said deployment of security personnel in the sites is informed by security situation prevailing in the area.
Sarah Akello, a miner at Kosiroi Mining Site in Tapac, said the security personnel deployed at the site act on orders of the company that secured mining rights, whose staff sometimes trample upon the rights of the artisanal miners.
“It is very easy for the company to manipulate locals in the site using the army. When we demanded for surface rights and increase in the loading fee, we were silenced with guns,” she said.
Even in the recent consultation meeting of the Mining and Mineral Bill, 2019 in Moroto, stakeholders raised the issue of heavy security deployment at the mining sites.
John Lorot, one of the miners in Kaabong explained that the heavy security deployment leaves residents with unanswred questions.
“Sometimes, we wonder whether there is real transparency in the mining sector. The investors always don’t want locals to know what transpires in the mines. Are we safe?”, he asked the team at Leslona Hotel on Thursday.
Vincent Kedi, the Principle Engineer in charge mining at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development observes that while security deployment at the mines needs to be streamlined, the situation sometimes warrants the security.