The Workers of Kilembe Mines Limited in Kasese District have gone 14 months without getting paid.
The 131 members are currently responsible for caring and
maintaining the defunct Kilembe mines cobalt factory.
Uganda Radio Network - URN also understands that the board member’s allowances have not
been paid in the last two years. The Manager Kilembe Mines, Fred Kyakonye Welaga says the
current staff are helping to secure and maintain factory machines and the over
14 million tonnes of cobalt stockpiles.
He says the management is overwhelmed with payment demands adding that government has been reluctant to response to their call.
//Cue in: ““Care and maintenance…
Cue out: ...access those ones.”//
Welega is worried that the staff might opt to drug government
to court while some might abscond from work which might risk the
safety of the factory equipment’s.
He appeals to government to urgently find money for the
workers and an investor so that operations can resume.
//Cue in: “The moment you…
Cue out: …control the rivers.”//
Olive Kahunde, one of the workers says it’s
becoming difficult for them to routinely come to clean the machines when they
are not being paid. She adds that their efforts to reach out to local leaders in the
district had not yielded any good results.
While on her visit to the mines this week, the vice president
Jesca Alupo directed the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to find an
investor so that operations can resume. She has also committed to present the key concerns including issues
of salaries before the president for an immediate response.
//Cue in: “These are people…
Cue out: …of kilembe mines.”//
Kilembe Mines was a major source of revenue for Uganda in the
1960s through 1970s but got a setback in 1977 when Idi Amin Dada, then as
president of Uganda, ordered Canadians who were the investors to leave the
mines in the hands of Ugandans. The mines closed in 1978 because of challenges.
In 2013, the government offered a 25-year
concession to Tibet Hima Mining Company Limited to revamp the mines. But the
concession was cancelled by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in
2017 October on grounds that Tibet Hima had failed to execute its mandate as
prescribed in the concession.