Govt reiterates safety as Rwamagana mining accident victims are laid to rest

Governor Mufulukye said everything would be done to ensure the safety of people working in mines. / Jean de Dieu Nsabimana

Miners who died in a Monday accident at a tin and coltan mine in Ntunga Cell, Mwulire Sector, Rwamagana District were laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon.

The accident claimed 14, seven of whom women.

The incident occurred at around 08:35 AM on Monday at the Ntunga mining site, after the ground suddenly gave way, trapping in miners who were below the open-cast mine.

The mine belongs to UK-based firm Piran Mining.

Eight of the deceased were from Rwamagana District.

Hundreds of mourners turned up at Kadasumbwa cementery where seven of the mining victims were laid to rest. / Jean de Dieu Nsabimana

Seven victims were buried Tuesday in Kadasumbwa cemetery, in the same cell where the concession is located, amid tears from friends and family.

Another miner was buried at the same time in nearby Musha Sector, also in Rwamagana.

Speaking at the burial of the seven victims, Fred Mufulukye, the Governor of Eastern Province conveyed to the mourners the message from President Paul Kagame, pledging that everything will be done to ensure safety of miners.

"When news of the accident broke, we immediately rushed to the scene to try to save them. Necessary materials were deployed to salvage lives but unfortunately none could be saved,” he said.

The Governor laid blame on the nature of the accident that made it impossible to save any of the miners who were buried in the quarry.

"The deceased were still young, we could see strength in them to support their families, and build their country,” he regretted.

Mufulukye said that different government organs and mining contractors held a meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss a way forward.

“Reparations to bereaved families should be disbursed very soon as stipulated by the laws; as government, we promise to see to this,” said Mufulukye.

There is also an investigation underway to determine the real cause of this accident and this will help inform strategies to strengthen the safety of miners going forward, he said.

The probe is being carried out by Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RBM) and other partners.

Meanwhile, one miner from Nyagatare and two from Gakenke district are set to buried Wednesday, according to a statement from Rwamagana District.

The youngest victim was identified as Theoneste Murwanashyaka, who was 22.

Born in 1996 with four siblings, and recently graduated from high school, Murwanashyaka was among those buried Musha Sector on Wednesday.

Families of victims from other districts around the country will be laid to rest in their respective districts.

According to figures from Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, 80 deaths of mine-related accidents occurred last year, while in 2017 the number of the fatalities was at 27.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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