At least twenty six households from Mwabulambo area under Paramount Chief Kyungu in Karonga had a rude awakening after they were dumped without being compensated properly by a Norwegian mining firm, Eland Mine Company (EMC) prompting Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) to come in with advocacy activities and ensure that justice prevails.
The Company which invaded the area to mine Coal after it got a license from Malawi government on December 19 2007, is on record to have promised communities within the area that they will among others, do some Corporate Social Responsibilities like constructing a school, hospital, boreholes and a good road in the area but nothing was done.
“Initially, we were excited with their coming as community members considering that what they promised us were essential to our day to day affairs. However, we feel cheated because none of what they promised was fulfilled,” said Principal Group Village Headman Mwabulambo in an interview with the press during a media tour organized by CCJP.
He said the other challenge is that they were not properly compensated after being relocated from the mining site as each household was only been given K50, 000.00 which he said was not worthy constructing a new house on the land they were relocated to.
“Apart from that, we are experiencing airborne diseases as a result of air pollution which was caused by this mining company. They even created pits which are full of water and our live stocks die due to drowning. Worse still, we lost the life of one child after he was drawn in one of the pits,” he said.
Mwabulambo said efforts to engage government to come in and assist them accordingly, seem not to materialize as authorities at district level keep on referring them to the Central government at Capital Hill.
He said since the Company left the area without recovering what they destroyed like the environment and for not compensating them as per the agreement, government must take full responsibility to support the welfare of its people.
CCJP national extractive industry desk officer, Agness Mpoto said it is high time the government of Malawi came in to address the concerns that people in this area have.
“It’s really sad to hear stories coming out from these people and indeed something must be done. It appears Chiefs were also taken by surprise over this project and a proper investigation has to be instituted to find out how this Company was awarded a License and later on embark on mining activities in this area,” said Mpoto.
She said as an advocacy arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), they will strive to ensure that the truth on the matter comes out and that people are well compensated hence intensify on sensitization meetings on the role of Chiefs and every stakeholder involved.
“In the meantime, three are the major challenges that need to be addressed. First one is the issue of compensation and second one is that of resettlement. This resulted to urbanization because people had to relocate to towns.Finally, there is an issue of pollution which also needs to be addressed,” she said.
Records at Kapolo Rural Hospital indicate that several cases emanating from effects of this mining activities were registered within the period the activities were taking place.
CCJP engaged the media to appreciate the challenges Mwabulambo Communities are facing as part of its advocacy initiatives,thanks to a project dubbed Tiwone which is funded by Messerior.
Eland Coal Mining, a subsidiary of Allied Procurement Agency (APA), was issued with a license, ML 158 to extract coal at Mwabulambo Mine which sits at 30 Kilometers North of Karonga Town Council. The Company suspended its operations and moved machines in 2015.