Mara mine finances villagers schemes

At last many years of misunderstandings, local councillors have said that the North Mara Gold Mine is now implementing the agreements it entered into with communities in the vicinity of the mine.

The agreements were tailored to transform the lives of local people living in villages located near the mine which is presently run by African Barrick Gold (ABG). “They are doing very well in education and health sectors.

“For example, the mine has done a wonderful job in rehabilitating Sungusungu health centre and setting up modern premises at Ingwe Secondary School, ” Ms Mwajuma Issa, a special seat councillor from Nyamongo (CCM) said.

She had just come out of a short full council meeting that sat to discuss development issues in the gold rich district recently. Mr Wilson Mangule, the councilor for Kemambo ward (Chadema) cited drilling of boreholes designed to supply clean water to the villages as one of the impressing indicators.

“On water side they have done very well and they have even drilled boreholes in some of my villages”, Mr Mangule said but urged the mine to do more. In the past it was rare or almost impossible for local leaders to comment on anything positive regardless of the operation of the mine whose production commenced officially in 2002.

In 2011 the mining company signed a deal dubbed “Village Benefits Implementation Agreements (VBIA)” with several villages in order to implement agreements that were not honoured by previous companies.

Implementation of the deal has witnessed the miners pouring in billions of shillings to support local development initiatives with provision of social services in areas of education, health, water, rural roads getting top priority.

The company now says it will spend around 13 million US dollars to implement the three – year deal which is also anticipated to enhance relations between the mine and the local people.

The civic leaders urged the mining company to speed up implementation of the agreements in some villages that are yet to be reached. “Like implementation of electricity at Kerende Village which was supposed to start in June but it is yet to start and we have not even seen any poles,” Mr Mangule said.

Similarly, Ms Issa said some areas around the mine are still experiencing critical shortages of water and called for immediate solutions. Efforts by the mine to distribute hundreds of litres of water to the neighbouring villages by using trucks as temporary measure meant to ease water blues does not seem to meet the demand, according to the councillors.

“There is a need to increase distribution stations as well as extending distribution hours “, Mr Mangule observed.
Source: Daily News,reported by Mugini Jacob, from Mara, Tanzania

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