Trapped miners: 80 feet covered, no sign of bodies

Saturday September 14 2019

Equipment. An  excavator which police provided

Equipment. An excavator which police provided last Saturday to help retrieve the bodies. PHOTO BY BARBRA NALWEYISO 


With two weeks gone since two miners got trapped in a gold pit residents of Lujingi B Village in Kasanda District have asked government to send a more powerful equipment to help retrieve the bodies buried.
The victims John Byamukama, 24, of Kyaluwolera Village and Nathan Muyingo,24, a have now spent 16 days buried in the 80 feet deep pit.
Mr Paddy Kakooza , the father of Muyingo, said his son was the first to enter the pit to on August 27 but got trapped. “When his friend Byamukama went to the site the following day, and attempted to help him, he also got trapped,” he said.
A rescue team from the police fire prevention and rescue services in Kampala tried to retrieve the bodies using an excavator between September 7 and September 9 but abandoned the site on Tuesday after failing to find the victims.
“We are hopeless now. The police rescue team seems to have failed. The excavator they were using has since been taken back to Kampala,” Mr Kakooza said in an interview on Thursday.
“We ask government to help us with a more powerful machinery so that the bodies are removed and we give our children a decent burial.” he added.
Mr Matia Lutwama, a resident, said the killer pit seems to be more than 80 feet deep and the excavator could not dig farther.
“We thought that the pit was 80 feet deep but so far about 70 feet have been covered but the victims cannot be traced. It seems the pit is more than 100 feet deep and the excavator cannot do much. It is quite obvious that we may not retrieve the bodies soon,” he said.
Mr Arnold Mukisa, an artisanal miner who has been working alongside the rescue team, said they had anticipated to have retrieved the bodies by Tuesday.
Mr Daniel Mukuye, the chairperson of Lujinji B Village, said they are left with only two options; continue with the search for the bodies or request government to give them a go ahead to gazette the site and mark it as a grave for the deceased.
“It is true relatives would wish to bury their loved ones at their ancestral homes but retrieval efforts seem to have failed,” he said
The police director for Fire and Rescue Services, Mr Joseph Mugisa, said his team is challenged by the hilly terrain of the site.
“ It is not because we didn’t have appropriate machinery, we had everything. We tried both vertical and horizontal excavation but we couldn’t find the bodies,” he said
He, however, allayed fears of relatives and friends of deceased, saying police are devising other means of retrieving the bodies.
“Our people shouldn’t lose hope, our team is still weighing other options and seeking more guidance to ensure that the bodies are recovered and handed over to their respective families as soon as possible,” he said.
Past Incidents
In the last decade a number of people have died in Kassanda gold mines. In April 2015, two artisanal miners; Aluberi Ndyayisaba, 27, and Dan Asiimwe, 18, died of suffocation at Kapya Gold Mining Site in Kitumbi Sub-county.
This occurred a few weeks after a similar incident had occurred in the same sub-county and killed two artisanal miners.