Give Karamoja share of its mineral wealth

Wednesday August 05 2020

News that raw minerals extracted from Karamoja are not benefitting its people and local governments is disturbing. See ‘Govt impounds 80 trucks with raw minerals from Karamoja,’ Daily Monitor, August 4.

The Minerals Protection Unit, and Karamoja regional minerals inspector Gerald Eneku says more than 100 trucks cart away tonnes of these limestone and marble minerals daily.

The trucks reportedly carry no documentation from the line Energy ministry. The report also says the minerals are ferried away to feed factories in the districts of Tororo, Jinja, and Kapeeka.

So who are exploiting Karamoja minerals for selfish gains?
These illegal minerals deals are enriching individuals, but also causing billions of shillings loss to both the Central Government, and local government in Karamoja.

The locals also have a legitimate bitterness that the minerals are being trucked away to create wealth for other regions, and not theirs. They are also right to grumble that children in Karamoja are left without jobs as the factories fed by raw materials from Karamoja are built elsewhere and creating job opportunities outside Karamoja.

Without a doubt, the government that is vested with the primary ownership and control of minerals in the country, is to blame for this mess.

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Similarly, someone or several people in government entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing Section 71 on Mineral Dealer’s Licence, and Section 98(2) on Royalties of the Mining Act, 2003, is or are looking away and permitting this illegality.

But the Energy ministry can reverse and stop this lapse because the liability of mineral dealers for payment of royalties is clearly set in Sections 70, 71, and 98 of the Mining Act, 2003. The Mineral Licence Dealer must be tasked to shoulder responsibility and not be allowed to shift the burden of paying royalty to the transporter, factory owner, or supplier.

Section 98(2) on Royalties says: “Royalty shall be shared by the central government, local government and owners or lawful occupiers of land subject to mineral rights in the manner specified in the Second Schedule to this Act”.

Again, Section 71 of the Mining Act, 2003 declare: “Every holder of a mineral dealer’s licence shall be liable for the due payment to the Commissioner of all the royalties due on any mineral bought, received or exported by the holder and shall give the commissioner such security as may be prescribed for the due payment of all such royalties.”

From the above, it is well-defined that both Karamoja, its people and the central government deserve their fair share of mineral wealth. The burden is on officials in the Energy ministry to ensure they’re not cheated.

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