Inhabitants of the Bmuko community in Bwari Area Council of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have said their community stream has been contaminated by the activities of a Chinese company that carries out mining activities in the area.
Bmuko is about one kilometre away from the Tipper Garage, opposite Dutse Mkaranta along Bwari road, and about 18 kilometres away from Abuja city centre.
On entering the community, at about 1000 metres from the Tipper Garage, one sees a massive Chinese firm on the right-hand side occupying massive land full of rocks with minerals beneath it. On the road are many Lorries waiting to load and take delivery of stones and sand to customers that need them.
A few miles away from there, you find another major mining site on the right-hand side of the community mosque. The site has many machines excavating the rocks, while others are breaking the stones into tiny particles and dust to be sold to those who are building houses and undertaking other forms of construction.
Mr. Simon Oke, a community resident who spoke to MAWA in his Bmuko residence and claimed to have lived in the community for over 22 years, narrated how the activities of a Chinese company led to the shrinking and contamination of the community stream.
According to Oke, as soon as the Chinese mining company began operation in Bmuko, they created artificial drainage and channeled the community stream from the mining site. That activity alone led to the distortion of the stream that led to its shrinking.
He, however, added that apart from the artificial drainage that distorted the stream, chemicals, and dust from the mining activities contaminated it and made it unsafe for human consumption. A situation that he said exposed the community to an acute water scarcity not until some individuals began to dig boreholes as alternatives to water sources.
“Before Chinese came here for mining, we had relied on this stream as our source of water, but as soon as they began operation, they constructed artificial drainage, distorted and contaminated it, leaving residents to suffer water scarcity,” Okey said.
Four female residents who spoke to MAWA, said apart from the mining activities leading to the contamination of the community stream, it has led to the distortion of indigenous people’s culture which is their bond with stream and nature.
A community leader who spoke to MAWA and wants his identity concealed for fear of victimization by those he accused of conniving with the Chinese company to destroy the community stream, said the entire community relied on the stream for their source of water, not until the company shrunk and contaminated it.
This is even as he accused the company of not providing a single borehole as a source of water for the residents having contaminated their water.
This is the situation in Bmuko community even as there exists Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) under the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) that has the mandate to protect the environment and keep it safe.
MAWA – Foundation could not immediately reach out to Chinese company officials for a response.
—Written by Queen Nelly James