The government through the National Youth Service (NYS) has distributed heavy mining equipment worth hundreds of millions of shillings to artisanal and small-scale miners in Taita-Taveta County.
The equipment was donated to Ministry of Mining by NYS as part of government programme to support for small-scale miners who use crude tools to mine.
The equipment includes two tippers, two wheel shovels, two excavators and two bulldozers.
Others include one air compressor and an oil tanker with 18,000 liters of diesel.
Speaking at Voi gemology centre on Wednesday during the official handing over of the equipment on Wednesday, Mining Cabinet Secretary, Dan Kazungu said the equipment was a fulfillment made by the government for small scale miners.
He noted that the miners will be able to compete equally with the large scale miners who owned modern mining machines.
5,000 Artisanal miners
The CS said the region had over 5,000 artisanal miners who will benefit from the equipment.
“This is keeping a promise that was made by the government for small-scale miners. We have done our part and it’s now time to do yours,” he said.
The event was attended by NYS Director General, Richard Ndubai, Principal Secretaries, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed for Mining; Lilian Omollo for Public Service and Dr. Margaret Mwakima for Environment.
Other leaders present include Taita-Taveta Women Representative, Joyce Lay, County Commissioner, Ms Kula Hache, several MCAs and other local leaders.
Last week on Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta was in the region to inspect several projects in the region.
During a meeting with the youth at Taita-Taveta University, he promised to assist small-scale miners through the provision of mining equipment.
This, he noted, would improve the livelihoods of people in the region.
Local leaders praised the government and promised to put the machines to good use.
Joyce Lay, the women rep, said the poorest of the miners should be given priority when allocating the equipment.
She noted that most youths and women were in groups and needed to be assisted in getting the equipment to the mining sites.
She also warned that large-scale miners should keep off the project which was meant to benefit the financially weak.
“These machines are here to help our poor people who want to mine. The rich miners should not be allowed to take over them,” she said.
Most mining areas are located deep in the inhospitable bushes of Kamutonga, Chawia, Chungaunga, Alia and Mkuki.
Others are in Kasighau areas in Voi and Kishushe in Wundanyi.
Data from the mining department shows that the region has 36 registered mining groups.
The membership of each group ranges from 10 to 30 people.
Mr. Gabriel Mcharo, the chair of Mwachabo Community Based Organisation (CBO), said the members would use the equipment to uplift their lives.
He also asked the government to allow the members to do controlled mining inside the national park.
Mwachabo CBO is the largest informal mining organisations with over 3,400 members.
Mr. Bakari Kalema, the Chairperson of Small Scale Miners Coast Chapter, said the miners were delighted by the fulfillment of the presidential pledge.
He added that a mining committee would create a timetable for how the machines will be utilised.
During the first month, the equipment would be used for free by the groups from where groups will pay small hiring fee for fuel and maintenance.
“We will make a programme that will accommodate all the groups. What we are wary about is large scale miners should not be given priority,” he said.
Ms. Penina Wambui, a mining student, said the issuing of the mining equipment and commissioning of gemology centre in Voi would give thousands of students an opportunity to have practical lessons of minerals processing from extraction to packaging.