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Campaigners blame Sierra Rutile over deaths

A coalition of civil society organisations, Campaign for Just Mining has held the Sierra Rutile mining company responsible for the sea accident on Tuesday morning in Bonthe District in which six people died. The victims - three women and three children - drowned while they were crossing the Gangama Dredge to their farms.

Speaking to Politico, Leslie Mboka, National Chairman of Campaign for Just Mining said mining activities in that District had adversely affected the lives of poor farmers who have to cross rivers every day to access their farms. He said some of the dredges were up to 80-ft deep, which he said had made it dangerous for poor farmers using canoes for transportation.

Mboka described the situation as “unfortunate”, adding that over the years mining had displaced many people in Bonthe District to the extent that people in Gangama Village had to be relocated to a new settlement. He said the new settlement was still within proximity of the dredge, which could lead to another displacement of people. He pointed out that that there was no political will to help mitigate the impact of mining on the affected communities warning that his organization would resort to legal remedies by taking class action in court because “all other options have so far failed”. Mboka said sea accident was an annual occurrence in Bonthe District.

Meanwhile, in a press release issued on Wednesday, the Sierra Rutile Company said it had learnt of the “tragic boat accident” and it “deeply regret the death of the passengers” and was providing assistance to search for the missing bodies. The company said that while details of the incident were unavailable, they were working with the police and the local community on a full investigation.

Sierra Rutile is reported to have given four bags of rice, Le 700,000 and two gallons of fuel as contribution to the bereaved families.