“The companies’ shutdown has compounded the current hardship in Lunsar and environs”, an ex-miner told this reporter last evening before press time.
Landowners submitted that over 1,000 former employees of these mining companies could not provide for their dependants due to joblessness.
The mining sector over the years has been the biggest contributor to the country’s economy. The shutdown and suspension of the two largest miners is adversely affecting the economy.
Direct and indirect beneficiaries have considered the closures of these companies’ activities in Lunsar as a dominant deterrent to improved livelihood, which currently agitates for native inhabitants.
According to residents, the spill-over effects of the shutdown have wrecked all businesses that were literally kept alive and booming as a result of the mining process.
They strongly believe that without mining, Lunsar and its surroundings are doomed, adding that chances to combat the problem of abject poverty in that part of the country are not likely as most people, especially the youth, have been cultured in the notion that mining is the only way out of poverty for them.
Since no mining activities are ongoing at the moment, petty stealing and sometimes armed robbery has increased and mostly young people are involved in the ugly acts.
Former mines workers gave their views and described the present living conditions they are faced with as unbearable owing to the fact that presently they cannot adequately provide for their wives, children and other dependants.
Majority of the workers have been laid off without any benefit because many of them did not hit the one year threshold which is a requirement to claim benefit in the companies.
The few workers who remained employed are under what they refer to as ‘Care Maintenance’ where they no more get the facilities they were given during normal operations.
Secretary General, Marampa Iron Ore Mining Concession Land Owners Association, Isheka Kamara said the shutdown has affected not just the land owners and the people of Lunsar, but the country as a whole.
He revealed that more than 1,500 workers who lost their jobs owing to the closure are not just from Lunsar, but from across the country.
Mr. Kamara submitted further that it is the responsibility of government to fight for its citizens. He joined the thousands of other ex-miners to appeal to government to review its action, adding that mining is the leading source of employment for many youth in the chiefdom who are now left vulnerable to illegal activities.