More than 50 trucks transporting marble and limestone from Moroto District have been impounded on suspicion of transporting minerals without a license. The operation which started on Monday mainly affected drivers transporting limestone from Kosiroi in Moroto district to Tororo Cement Factory.
The operation led by the Moroto Regional Police Commander Senior Superintendent of Police Gerald Tushime also resulted in the arrest of scores of the drivers. He said the trucks would be cleared on condition that Tororo Cement Factory complies with licensing and tax policies and mining regulations, as set by the government.
Tushime said the operation would continue until sanity returns to the mining sector in South Karamoja, which is threatened by the black market and a chain of middlemen. He added that the government was losing billions of shillings as a result of dubious activities in the mining sector.
Tushime warned that the drivers would be held responsible and face charges of transporting minerals illegally, contrary to provisions of the Minerals Act. According to the act, no one is allowed to process, smelt, refine, fabricate, cut, blast, polish, store, transport or trade-in minerals or otherwise deal in or possess commercial quantities of minerals without a licence issued by the Minister.
The enforcement comes weeks after a sensitization drive conducted jointly by the police, officials of the Ministry of Mineral Development and local government officials across mining communities and companies dealing in the mineral sector. He adds that after the sensitisation, the police has now embarked on a drive to ensure compliance with the law.
Robert Mugabe, one of the affected drivers for Tororo Cement Factory said the issue of a license is a management issue for which drivers should not be arrested.
Another driver who identified himself as Maluku said this was an issue between the company and government and that drivers had no control over it.
Emmanuel Lokii, the secretary Production and Marketing in Moroto District Local government welcomed the police operation saying many miners were flouting the regulations and were often bent on exploiting the local community. URN could not get a comment from Tororo Cement by this morning.
However, Gerald Eneku, the Inspector of mines in Karamoja noted that there were guidelines by the Ministry of Mineral Development to ensure all miners in the sub-region complied with the licensing and taxation regulations.