The current death toll from the Kartee Gold Mines in Gboanipea, Lower Nimba County is not only unfortunate, but very scaring. In total, some 60 poverty-stricken persons, including foreign nationals have reportedly died in desperation, scavenging for gold in caves beneath the earth.
The chilling tales came to public fold last week when about 45 illicit miners were trapped under the earth where they have been digging for gold at the Kartee Gold Mines in Gboanipea, about 10 kilometers from Tappita District in Nimba.
At least five bodies were recovered on Tuesday, 12 February and one survivor rescued. But 35 others are still entrapped with no serious rescue team on the ground to save lives, nearly one week running into the aftermath of the incident.
The government is yet to organize a disaster team to the mines to rescue the remaining trapped illicit miners and put in place mechanism to avert a reoccurrence of the ugly situation.
The National Disaster Commission is quoted as saying it is not aware of the landslide at the Kartee Gold Mines in Gboanipea that has affected nearly 60 of our fellow compatriots. News from the county says 15 persons had suffered similar fate earlier at the same mine.
Nimba County Superintendent Dorr Cooper is quoted by the BBC as saying about 100,000 illicit miners have intruded the mines, some of them armed. Why hasn’t he called in the police to condone the area?
He notes that there is lawlessness around the site. But local authorities on the ground have failed to ensure law and order, leaving illicit miners to have their way at the expense of lives. Chiefs and elders are left with no alternative but to call in country devils to halt further intrusion.
However, we think it’s about time the Government of Liberia thru the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Mines and Energy along with other state apparatus act to avert loss of more lives.
We call for immediate deployment of the police Emergency Response Unity (ERU) and other riot units to contain the lawlessness at the Kartee Gold Mines. We believe the government is not supportive of illicit miners trying to create a state within a state.
The time is now. Government should not wait for more lives to be lost in Nimba before moving in, as they would be a miscarriage of key responsibilities under the Constitution – to protect lives and property, and maintain law and order.