Dixon Salami Adama, Jose
The history of Plateau Province would not be complete without tin mining, which left an indelible mark on the state’s psyche. In the past, especially in pre-colonial Nigeria, it was a lucrative source of income for the colonial administration, but in recent times, tin mining in the state is largely artisanal and unregulated, leading to mine collapses, resulting in the death and injury of many. Worse still, abandoned mine pits have turned into empty graves, where many human lives are buried, besides posing a threat to the environment.
Daily Trust observed that the abandoned mine pits were not covered and therefore filled with rain and groundwater. There were people who did not know that they were victims of these pits, which turned into pools where children swam or brought water.
Criminals have also used swimming pools to hide evidence of their crimes in unimaginable depths of water.
Solomon Ngwak, a Bukuru resident who lost his one-and-a-half-year-old son in one of the sinkholes in 2014, said he has been warning people about the dangers ever since his son drowned in a mini-pond behind his house. ponds, mine pits, etc.
He said that his wife was cooking in the kitchen and he did not know that his son had crawled into the water and drowned, and when he found out, his lifeless body was found.
Incidentally, Ngwak works in the block industry in the Little Rayfield area of Jos, right next to an abandoned mine pit that has been turned into a huge dam. And he said that every year they record deaths in the hole, especially those who come to swim there.
He said they recorded two deaths last year and in one of the cases, the boy’s body was found four days later before the body surfaced.
“One of the deaths recorded in the mining pit here was a boy among some boys who came to swim. As soon as the boy drowned in the water, the others ran away and refused to tell anyone. And we were busy working on our site and didn’t see anything like that happening. On the fourth day we found a dead body floating on the water, and then endeavored to remove it.
“After exhuming the body, we started sending messages through existing channels for anyone whose child is missing to come forward for identification.” This is how the news reached the family before they hurried down and recognized the body.”
Ngwak added that since the incident, people, especially children, have been banned from swimming in the water.
For Christopher Isaiah, a resident of Josun Bisichi, mine pits have caused erosion, collapsed buildings and damaged roads. He said some of the collapses were caused by mining pits creating a void beneath where the structure sits, often causing the building to collapse.
Ishaya also said that mining has affected agriculture and the provision of amenities such as roads, as the land has been completely degraded, leaving no land to plant crops or build roads or even build hospitals.
He went on to say that abandoned mining pits are havens for criminals who use them to rob passers-by, explaining that criminals usually threaten to dump their victims’ bodies into the pits.
Milo Ndach, another resident of Top town in Rayfield area of Jos, says that years ago, the government used to cover up the mine pits to make them dangerous to people, but this is no longer the case.
According to him, some are abusing the water in the pits and doing agriculture.
Da Dr Nga Dangyang, Da Gwom Ryei Jos South said that such mining pits are abundant, it is unfortunate that mining pits are abandoned. According to him, the government used to fill them properly.
According to him, there have been several cases of drowning of people and livestock.
He said the Josun Rayfield area, which today is a place for the rich, including the famous Atiku Street, were mining pits decades ago but were properly filled and people built their houses there and still stand today.
Bello Muhammed, manager of Resource Global Foresight Nigeria Limited, a mining company in Bukuru, said the pits are dangerous because they are very deep, often up to 25 to 30 feet deep.
The manager said that the best way to combat the menace of mine pits is for miners to always properly cover the pits they dig during mining operations so that they do not flood and become dangerous to the public.
He said that the miners should not leave everything to the government, they should play their role as miners properly, that is, they should always cover the pits with excavated sand after digging; instead of leaving them open as usual.
Reacting, the Plateau State Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Usman Idi said it was unfortunate that mining had become a problem in the state.
He, however, said that the government has adopted strategies to put the mines to good use.
“First, the Ministry of Agriculture together with the Ministry of Ecology has prepared a list of dangerous mine sites that can be turned into fishponds.
Idi also said the ministry, together with the Ministry of Solid Minerals, has been sensitizing miners, especially active miners in groups, so that they can be taught modern mining techniques and thus reduce or eliminate the rate of hazardous mining.
“The Environmental Project Office in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is trying to see that some areas with environmental problems are managed; Most of them were checked in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi,” he added.