By Linah Musangi

    19TH MARCH, 2018

    Majority of residents of Ngaaie in Kyuso sub-county in Kitui County who have already been paid compensation money by the Athi River Mining to pave way for limestone mining in the area have come strongly in support of the mining project, claiming that such a project has transformed their lives for the better.

    This comes amid fears by a small section of residents who are against the mining processes and the amount being offered by the mining company as compensation, with the residents living with fears of a forcible eviction from their land. The limestone mining project at Ngaaie Hill is expected to affect more than 300 families and so far Athi River Mining Company has paid more than 90% compensation with each family getting Ksh. 150,000 per acre.

    Mining of Limestone in the area of Mwingi is expected to kick off anytime soon as the company is said to be in the process of finalizing the process of compensation and it’s currently in the process of prospecting on the best place to establish two cement processing plants in the area.

    Speaking after a meeting with the residents at the mining site yesterday, The vice chair to the Liaison committee to the project Joseph Mutembei said that everything is going on well as agreed between the locals and the company and that so far the project has received backing from majority of residents, thus paving way for mining to start anytime. Mr Mutembei pointed out that though initially the project received some resistance from the locals, eventually ARM addressed all the concerns raised by the residents and they were given a go ahead.

    He said that project has positively impacted to the lives of the residents, who have been suffering from abject poverty despite sitting on a wealth of minerals. Kimanzi Maluki who is a resident of the area married to six wives and currently having 22 children, says that the project came as a great relief to him as so far he has acquired property worth more than Ksh 5 Million from compensation money for his 54 acres of land which he owned in the area, after subdividing the rest to his wives and children.

    According to Mr Maluki, only a foreigner can undermine the project as the residents are already busy enjoying benefits of the project. Kaki Wambua says that the project has done her family a great benefit, as from a piece of land they had purchased in the area with her husband, they have been able to buy a larger piece of land elsewhere and they are currently in the process of constructing rental houses from the surplus which they got from the compensation money.

    James Mwangangi another resident of the area says that small town have started growing around the mining area, and this is a clear indication of the benefits the residents have acquired from the mining project in the area. Mr Mwangangi says that establishment of a cement processing plant in the area would be a great relief to jobless youths in the area, as many jobs will be availed to them.

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