Mining firms on the spot over malpractices
NYANZA – The Rwanda Mining Association (RMA) has vowed to come up with measures and strategies to develop the sector and make it a befitting and respected profession.
Speaking to The New Times, Jean-Malic Kalima, the association representative, acknowledged that some players have failed to abide by the laws regulating the sector, blaming it on the lack of a well-organised structure to follow up the implementation of all rules.
Kalima was speaking last Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting that brought together all players in the sector in the southern province to elect the provincial committee and decide on the way forward.
The New Times understands that some players have been operating without licences or, in other cases, without necessary equipment, putting the lives of their employees in danger.
“We will work closely with the government authority to make sure every single individual respects the laws and regulations and that they fulfil all the requirements,” Kalima said.
“We are still struggling to build the capacity of our association, but we are confident to restore the dignity and trust for the industry. We will make sure all comply with the laws to preserve a good image for this sector.”
He regretted the fact that some players are turning a blind eye to child labour.
“Employing underage children is prohibited and punishable under the Rwandan law. So, any one should bear that in mind while recruiting employees,” he said, adding: “We have committed to never employ children. Anyone who contravenes the commitment will face the full wrath of the law.”
He urged the owners of mine concessions to always make sure their employees are well equipped and protected and pledged a regular follow-up on the issue to ascertain that this is respected.
Jean Bosco Hakizimana, a representative of the United Mineral Exporters, a mining company operating in Gisagara District, told The New Times that they have gone a long way conform to regulations, thanks to efforts from their leadership, the government and other partners.
“Of course, there are irregularities but not everyone in the industry is outlawed. It is just a few people who are yet to respect the requirements,” he insisted.
“We all know the requirements and the basic equipment we need for us to operate and safeguard the lives of employees. If there are some ignoring them, they should bear the consequences rather than make it a general case”.
Hakizimana called for their association’s leadership to keep advocating for the benefits of their members.
In Tuesday’s election, Robert Rugamba was elected as the head of the provincial committee.
According to Kalima, all provincial committees are expected to be in place before the end of August.
Speaking at the function, the Southern Provincial Governor, Alphonse Munyantwari, promised his support and collaboration to enhance the industry.
He said it is important for them “to respect all regulations in the field, especially those relating to the protection of environment and the safety of their employees”.
In a bid to strengthen their partnership with the population, Munyantwari advised them to invest some of the generated revenues in local communities as part of their corporate social responsibility.