October 20th 2017

Society / Environment

Taita Taveta NGO to empower locals on mining laws, rights

“Unlike the past when mineral dealers were harassed by security organs while dealing in the mineral business, the draft regulations provide for a mineral dealers’ license which guarantees the legitimacy of their businesses.”

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 21 Nov 2016 20:56 EAT

A non-governmental organization in Taita Taveta plans to roll out a programme to educate residents on laws governing the mining sector which is rapidly developing in the area. Speaking at during a mining sector stakeholder’s meeting in Voi last week, Hamasa Initiative Executive Director Peter Shambi said his organization will conduct training workshops to increase the people’s capacity to contribute to the draft mining regulations in the process of enactment.

The official expressed concern that the Cabinet Secretary for Mining had been vested with immense powers that should be delegated to other institutions. He however praised the draft regulations for giving the community in mineral-rich regions powers to take control the exploitation of their mineral resources.

In particular, he said a provision for frequent social audits on mining operations would help ensure that the needs of locals were taken care of. “This regulation provides a framework for mining companies to engage with communities likely to be impacted by their operations through community development agreements,” he said.

The executive director said his organization will produce pocket versions of the Mining Act 2016 and distribute copies to communities and small scale miners. “Unlike the past when mineral dealers were harassed by security organs while dealing in the mineral business, the draft regulations provide for a mineral dealers’ license which guarantees the legitimacy of their businesses.”

During the meeting, residents expressed concerns that the Mining cabinet secretary had been given immense powers in the Mining Act. The County Geologist Mr Edward Omito said that artisanal mining licenses will be acquired from the County level. He added that the law provides for the formation of the Mineral Rights Board which will check on his powers. “The Boards, whose chairpersons will be appointed by the President, will advise and give recommendations to the cabinet secretary,” Mr Omito said.

Among other participants at the meeting were County Chief Superintendent Geologist Duncan Zuela and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights programme officer James Mwenda.

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