Jayfm Commentary: Danger Posed by Illegal Mining Activities in Plateau State
Written by Joey Shekwonuzhibo on July 6, 2022
Today’s news Commentary is on the danger posed by illegal mining activities in Plateau. It is written by the News and Current Affairs Department of Jay FM.
In Plateau state ,the activities of illegal miners have continued to raise concern among residents and other stakeholders in the state
An outcry by affected communities in various pars of the state on the danger which their activities pose to the people appear not to have received the desired attention over the years either .
Illegal miners have reportedly invaded large tracts of land, chasing away farmers which sometimes lead to clashes , degrading the soil and depriving communities and the public treasury of the benefits of their natural resources such as zinc, copper, tin, wolframite, tantalite and other base metals.
Not so long ago,the danger posed by illegal mining activities in Plateau communities was brought to the fore when a mining site in Zawan community in the Jos South Local Government Area caved in.
More than 50 persons were said to be working inside the pit when it collapsed and buried them alive.
While several people, who were mostly young men between the ages of 20 and 30, were rescued with varying degrees of injury, six miners, who were not so lucky, died inside the pit.
Before the the Zawan incident occurred ,the National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Brig-Gen Babagana Monguno, had ordered the arrest of 16 Chinese nationals and eight Nigerians involved in massive illegal mining in Zurak Community, Wase Local Government of Plateau State.
Monguno ordered the arrest during a visit with the then Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, to some illegal mining sites in the state
Apart from ordering the immediate stoppage of all mining activities in the area with the exception of duly licensed miners ,the Minister also shut down of the operations of Solid Unit Limited and Geotess Nigeria Limited immediately in line with the Mining Act, which empowers the Minister to stop illegal mining activities and take any action to ensure orderly development of the mineral resources.
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong,who accompanied the Minister and the NSA on the visit to Wase LGA while responding, lamented the deprivation faced by people of Zurak despite the richness of the mineral resources that surround them and called on the Federal Government to take necessary measures to curb illegal mining all over Plateau State.
However ,apart from the fact that no diligent prosecution was pursued against the offenders in Wase LGA by the National Security Adviser and the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development till date, investigation also show that nothing has changed since then as illegal mining activities still thrive in Wase and many other Plateau communities .
Findings particularly paint heart-wrenching pictures of the depredation going on in some villages like Gero in Gyel District of Jos South Local Government Area,Dong in Jos North LGA and other communities in Riyom ,Barkin Ladi,Jos North, Wase among others .
There are also allegations of encroachment on the people’s land due to the activities of illegal miners .
Plateau state government and the federal government should act quickly to avoid the grave consequences associated with unregulated mineral exploitation.
They should demonstrate responsible leadership by halting the unconscionable plunder of the state natural resources and protect the people from the concomitant harassment and criminality unleashed on the communities by the illegal miners.
Decisive action taken today would not only avert a replay of the 2019 Zawan mining site collapse incident leading to the death of some locals but will also restore sanity in the exploitation of natural resources in Plateau state