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Field Report #209: Abandoned tin mines endanger communities
At Gyel District
Present state of affairs
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Location: Sabon-Barki and Giyel Communities, Jos South LGA, Plateau State

ERA monitors visited Sabon-Barki community and Gyel District, both in Jos South LGA of Plateau State on August 5, 2009 in response to the growing call by impacted communities for a remediation of the ecological disaster and dislocation wrought on their environment and livelihood by nearly a century of tin mining and the failure of government at the federal and state levels to address the problem.

The ecological disaster in Sabon-Barki and Gyel mirror the picture in most communities of the Jos Plateau, a region which, in its pristine state (before commercial resource extraction began), is described in the detailed classification of Nigerian vegetation as a transitional zone between the southern and northern guinea savannah.

Like other communities in the Jos Plateau, the once rich vegetation in both communities is complemented by an extensive sheet of natural minerals in the earth’s crust such as bauxite, tantalite, columbine ores, and cassiterite, among others. These were however exploited recklessly by foreign companies of the colonial era before they were forced to leave in 1972 when the Federal Government nationalized them. 

Unfortunately, the same government that inherited the mines failed did nothing to ensure ecological justice through remediation on impacted environment and its effect on the host communities and also failed to stop illegal mining.
It is on this premise that ERA embarked on the field trip to Sabon-Barkin and Gyel.

At Sabon-Barkin
The first leg of the field trip carried out in the company of a local interpreter named Desmond Datok, was to Sabon-Barkin where ERA monitor chronicled the devastation of the community brought on by unmitigated mining activity, especially huge craters that had displaced farmlands and altered what was once a beautiful landscape.

It was observed that unmitigated mining activity caused many sections of the earth to be removed and, as would not have been expected of extractive companies operating in tandem with international best practices, there were no attempts to fill the craters.

Community people that confided in ERA, lamented that heavy equipment like jig plants and draglines were used to inflict wounds on the earth and pointed to several houses under threat of caving in as gulley erosion caused by the open wounds widen by the day.

ERA monitor was reliably informed that the gulley erosion which was observed to have cut off several sections of the community from other sections, also made it impossible for people on either side to carry out normal economic and social activity.  

But this was not the only barrier to harmony in the community. Datok said the community still cannot boast of any portable drinking water, schools or medical facilities to justify the enormous wealth that was extracted from its belly by foreign companies in the colonial times and artisinal miners today, some of whom allegedly have the backing of the state and federal government.

According to him, the absence of these basic amenities forced the people to go to Jos township all the time to meet their needs.

Green Hotlines
Green Hotlines
Is there a spill, pipeline rupture, fire, gas flare, water, land or air pollution in your community or one you know about? Do you need assistance to respond, and prevent future occurrences or have you noticed any activity that threatens the environment?

In the event of any ecological disaster or threat to the environment, call our toll-free GREEN LINES:  08031230088 & 08031230089