Thursday June 12 2014

Quarry explosions scare residents

By Francis Mugerwa

Hoima- Residents of Kaseeta Parish in Kabwooya Sub-county in Hoima District have expressed concern over quarrying conducted by a road construction company, saying it is a danger to their health.

Kolin Construction Ltd, a Turkish firm contracted to tarmac the 92-kilometre Hoima-Kaiso Tonya Road, set up a quarry in Kyenjojo village. The contractors use explosives to blast rocks which they are using in the construction of the road.

Mr Samwiri Mugirimaani, 60, a resident of Kyenjojo Village claimed the blasts are being made about 200 metres away from his home, adding that his family is terrified.

“Whenever blasts are made, my 20-year-old daughter Anifa Sinandugu, collapses and normalises after about an hour,” he said during a dialogue at Kaseeta Primary School, last week.

Mr Mugirimaani said due to frequent collapsing, Sinandugu had sought refuge at her aunt’s residence which is about 10 kilometres away.
The programme officer of the Midwestern Regional Anti-Corruption Coalition, Mr Herbert Monday, urged government to safeguard the lives and livelihoods which are threatened by the blasts.

Kaseeta Parish councillor Emmanuel Fenny, told this newspaper that the blasts, which are made daily, have been ongoing since September 2013.
Kabwooya Sub-county chairmanFrancis Mukooto, said his office had registered numerous complaints from residents, who claim they have not been sensitised, relocated and at times they are not alerted before blasts are made.

“They claim that the blasts cause them to flee their homes in disarray. My office has tried to engage officials at Kolin construction and other government offices to address this issue,” Mr Mukooto said.
Midwestern regional police commander Charles Ssembabulidde said police has not yet received any official complaint from any resident.

“We shall, however, investigate the matter and take appropriate actions,” he said. He added that the explosives used at the quarry are kept at Hoima Police Station and police officers monitor the use of the explosives.

The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), which is supervising the construction of the road, has promised to investigate the matter.

“We shall follow up the contractor to ensure the company complies with the requirements specified in the contract,” UNRA spokesperson Daniel Alinange said.

He said environmental impact requirements state that the contractor is supposed to warn resident before any blast is made. He added that in cases where huge blasts are expected, residents are supposed to be relocated until blasts are complete.