When cassiterite was discovered in Rwinkwavu Sector in Kayonza District in the 1920s, it was undoubtedly a significant opportunity for the residents, as many of them were able to find employment in the mines. The mining operations continued to expand, and in the 1930s, a small community started to form around the mining area. Homes, stores, and other establishments were set up to meet the requirements of the miners and their families. ALSO READ: Over 100 illegal mines identified as accidents kill 429 in five years Years later, the area remains inhabited as mining operations persist. Nevertheless, citizens face challenges, one of which is the potential threat to their houses posed by these activities. Residents of Nkondo cell, Rwinkwavu sector, say they are worried about the future of their homes due to underground mining activities. These activities cause vibrations that often lead to cracks in their houses. “We fear that one day our houses may collapse completely; mostly when rainy seasons approach, we never have peace of mind,” Rosatta Nyirabazungu, 57, a mother of six, told The New Times. She mentioned that she enjoys residing in her neighbourhood, where she has spent the majority of her life, but also harbours the fear of losing everything in the event of her house collapsing. Some residents express the need to be relocated from the hazardous zones their neighbourhood has transformed into. The community is divided on the best course of action, but everyone agrees that prioritising their well-being and the safety of their families is paramount. ALSO READ: Govt cracks down on 100 illegal mines In 2020, Nyirabazungu tragically lost her husband when he became trapped in an abandoned mine. This devastating event left her filled with fear and concern for the safety of her children, especially when their house is shaken by tremors from beneath the ground. Residents have reportedly submitted letters to officials, expressing concerns about the deteriorating conditions of their homes and the potential safety risks. “Officials from different offices visited the area several times, promising to take action and ensure the safety of the residents. We waited and are still waiting, but as you see, the future is uncertain, and leaders should do something about our issue,” said Franciois Ntamakiriro, a resident of Rwinkwavu sector, who is also the secretary of the group of residents trying to push for their concerns. According to the report of the task force team that was submitted to the district, more than 300 residents need to be relocated from the mining area as their safety and well-being are at risk. Despite the dire state of these houses, the residents heavily depend on agriculture. Some of their gardens are filled with soil from mining concussions, and the lands no longer produce crops, as reported by residents who spoke with The New Times. “As mining activities get closer to us, more gardens are affected; they are the landfills of the underground soil from the mines. We can no longer harvest as we used to; it is affecting us,” said Josepha Mukabahizi, another resident. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s mineral exports fetch over $240m in first quarter of 2023 Despite these challenges, the residents remain hopeful that the government will intervene and find a solution to their plight. Speaking to The New Times, Kayonza District Mayor John Bosco Nyemazi said that the district, along with the Rwanda Mining Board, has proposed a comprehensive plan for relocation, taking into account the individual circumstances of each resident. “Residents with land titles first of all have to understand that they live in an area reserved for mining activities; the land titles they own are not valid. However, the district has allocated more than 100 hectares reserved for the relocation of the residents,” he said. The mayor assured residents that their individual circumstances would be taken into consideration during the relocation process. Through Aristarque Murara, the coordinator of Wolfram Mining Processing, which operates in the cassiterite-rich Rwinkwavu sector, the company will provide infrastructure like roads in the proposed land for smooth relocation of the residents from the mine areas. The mineral area spans 2,200 hectares and has been a major source of employment and revenue for the local community. Currently, according to Murara, more than 1,000 residents are employed.