By yoana kimwele
Four rich Minerals Counties on Saturday issued a joint Press conference an taita taveta during the Mineral and gemstone exhibition conference. On behalf of the people of the four County Governments;
Taita Taveta, Makueni, Machakos and Kitui, we wish to thank H.E the Governor of Taita Taveta County and his county administration for organizing the first ever County Gemstone Expo for Artisanal Miners, Mineral Dealers and Jewellery Stakeholders.
We also wish to thank H.E Granton Samboja’s counterparts H.E Charity Ngilu of Kitui, H.E Professor Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni, H.E Dr. Alfred Mtua of Machakos of allowing their various delegations to participate in the County Gemstone Expo.
It was a well thought idea because for the first time ever, it has given the industry stakeholders and ore specifically artisanal miners the opportunity to showcase the immense mineral wealth.
Further, the forum has brought together key representatives from the four Counties whose mineral wealth is lying idle. We also wish to thank the National Government, for sending their representatives to grace the occasion.
We also recognize the National Government efforts to promote the gemstone wealth from the region by setting up a Gemstone Centre, which is vividly captured as one of the key flagship projects under vision 2030.
It’s noteworthy that quite a number of other key vision 2030 flagship projects like the SGR projects, Lapsset have been started and nearing completion yet the Gemstone Center which was started in 2011, a year after the promulgation of the 2010 constitution is one of the many Government projects which is not being utilized despite having been handed over to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining by the contractor in 2017.
In this close to 10 years of ideation and 2 years of completion of the construction and equipping, you can calculate how much the people of Taita Taveta and in the neighboring counties have lost by the non-usage of the facility.
Further, it’s extremely depressing that despite the Taita Taveta County hosting a profile Expo which has not only brought the local exhibitors, neighbouring counties and even international buyers they could not hold the Expo at the Gem Centre because it is not officially opened by the President, yet all the identification, testing, value addition equipment are in place.
We are therefore, asking the National Government through the office of The President and more so Dr. Fred Matiangi who has been mandated to coordinate matters of Government to take note and act expeditiously to ensure that;
The center is operationalized within the shortest time possible
The regulations and guidelines on the sharing of royalties are developed and operationalized
Designate and gazette areas for artisanal mining operations.
Launch with respective county governments the county artisanal mining committees within the shortest time possible to allow formalization and licensing of artisanal miners.
Prioritise completion of tourism infrastructure such as the Voi Ikanga Airport to enhance the buyers.
The four counties present shall be consulting on these matters on a regular basis with a view to ensuring that the economic, environmental and social issues discussed and the common interests of the people are fully actualized.
H.E Dr. Wathe Nzau
H.E Majala Mlagui
TAITA TAVETA COUNTY
CECM, Trade, Industrialisation, Innovation and Tourism,
Eng. Sebastian Kyony
CECM, Trade Industry, Marketing, Tourism and Cooperatives,