Residents of the Bmuko community in Bwari Area Council of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are accusing a Chinese company of contributing hugely to climate change that is destroying the environment, affecting their livelihoods, and exposing them to dangerous public health.
Mmuko is about a 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.
As the company mines and excavates the rocks, using heavy-duty machines for their operation, they are constantly destroying the environment, and aquatic lives, exposing the community to dangerous health issues.
Mr. Wilfred Okute, a climate change activist, speaking to MAWA – Foundation said the use of heavy-duty machines by the Chinese company in the community, is the main driver of climate change that has led to changes in temperatures and weather patterns in the area.
“The residents continue to inhale dust coming from the mining sites that have polluted the atmosphere that further exposes them to more dangerous public health risks,” Okute said.
“Go to the Riverside, the only community stream has since gotten contaminated and is rapidly drying off as a result of Chinese mining activities” Okute added.
Mr. James Obute, who claimed to have lived in Bmuko for over 15 years and was a live witness to all activities of the Chinese company, while speaking to the MAWA team, alleged that some persons died on the mining sites without adequate compensation by the company.
Some inhabitants who are now workers on the mining site, speaking to MAWA-Foundation narrated how their lands have been taken over by the Chinese company that is making huge monies and exploiting the community.
Narrating their experience over the Chinese mining company operation, Bmuko residents in a similar narrative recounted how their lands were taken over by the Chinese company in connivance with the Bwari Area Council which is the local authority without adequate compensation.
Some of the community residents alleged that the company gives community compensation to the village head who usually does not disclose what was been collected, while others say the community head is very sincere and settles everybody as soon as he receives money from the mining company
A female worker who spoke to MAWA Foundation on the mining site and did not want her identity disclosed, said that over 400 trucks load from the site daily, and each of them pays N500 fee before they are allowed to leave the site.
She disclosed that a 12 tyre truck loads 30 tons and each of the tons cost the sum of N5, 000 which equals about N60 million daily when multiplied by the number of tons and 400 trucks that load from the site every day.
When MAWA asked community residents whether the Chinese company pays them compensation and settlement, they said the company gives community benefits to the community chief.
MAWA – Foundation could not immediately reach out to Chinese company officials for a response.