The Role of Uganda’s Army In Mining Sector Under Scrutiny

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Kampala Wednesday March 12, 2014-The role of Uganda’s army in the mining sector has come under scrutiny.

Local civil society organizations are investigating reports that artisanal miners are being chased out of the mining areas by soldiers of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF.
The soldiers are accused of illegally controlling mining activities in the Karamoja region, north eastern Uganda. The region is rich in minerals like gold, limestone and marble.
“In Moruita, you have to be cleared by somebody in military uniform in order for you to be able to buy gold” explains Simon Peter Nangiro the Chairman Karamoja Miners Association to the Continent Observer.
Nangiro says soldiers have been heavily deployed in the areas where artisanal miners used to operate from in the districts of Moroto and Nakapiripirit.
“We suspect them to be serving the interests of the big companies because currently locals are complaining that they have been blocked from accessing the mines. The soldiers have setup roadblocks near the mines and they only allow in particular people” Angiro says the action of the soldiers has impacted negatively on artisanal mining in the area.
Nangiro claims most of the artisanal miners have been forced to abandon their only source of livelihood due to harassment by security officials.
Security officials profiteering
“We need security officials to protect us but instead they are being deployed in the wilderness where there are no people so who will protect us?” asks Sophie Betty Nangiro a resident of Moroto town.
Nangiro explains that since the discovery of minerals in the area the soldiers have abandoned their role of protecting civilians and are now concentrating on guarding the mines where they are allegedly profiteering.
Army Responds
The Third Division Army Spokesperson Jimmy Omara, says the army has only deployed in the mining areas to protect the miners from being attacked by armed gangs. He says the region is still recovering from years of cattle rustling which necessitates deployment of soldiers in the mines.
In a related development, Dao Africa Limited an Egyptian owned company has been granted 21 year mining lease to mine marble in Rupa Sub-county, Moroto district.
Engineer Khaled Kasem the Project Manager Dao International told the Continent Observer that they intend to invest US$12m in mining and setting up a cement factory in the area.
Available records indicate 90% of the remote Karamoja region is under mineral concessions.

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