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Fuente: The Citizen 10 de noviembre de 2009

Search for new water sources near North Mara Gold Mine belonging to Barrick Gold


By Anthony Mayunga, Mwanza

The Government has started looking for alternative water sources for communities surrounding the North Mara Gold Mine (NMGM) belonging to Barrick Gold Tanzania, it has been learnt.

Analysts believe the move aims at consoling members of the communities who were eagerly waiting for the just-ended 17th parliamentary session to issue a 'verdict' on a report on the quality of the Tigithe river polluted by acid seepage from a pit at Gokona last May.

An investigation conducted in the villages surrounding the mine indicated that experts were looking for alternative sources of water at Nyamwaga, Genkuru, Kerende, Kewanja, Nyangoto and Matongo villages in the district.

Kibasaku ward, whose councillor, Mr Joseph Moya, was a whistle blower on the death of 45 villagers and about 700 cows alleged to have resulted from consumption of the contaminated river water, was left out in the initial water project plans, according to the councillor.

Mr Moya said he complained to the Tarime District Council, and subsequently the ward was incorporated into the water project early this month. At that time the experts began searching for alternative sources of water at Nyarwana, Weigita and Nyankunguru villages.

Comprising experts from Lake Victoria basin and Tarime District Council, they are divided into three groups analysing rocks, soil and water.

The ongoing water exploration would lead to constructing shallow and deep water wells as well as water ponds. These would be sources of water for the consumption of villagers and their livestock as directed by a parliamentary committee.

The parliamentary committee on lands, natural resources and environment toured the large-scale mine just before the 17th session began.

It wanted to ascertain if the seepage of the acid from its Gokona pit was controlled as instructed by another parliamentary team last June.

The minister of Sate in the Vice President's Office (Environment), Dr Batilda Buriani, who accompanied the parliamentary probe team, directed local authorities to ensure the alternative water sources were in place immediately and the cost be settled by the mine.

The Tarime district water engineer, Mr Ahmed Ngoda, admitted that the search for alternative sources of water for the villagers had begun.

He, however, declined to comment on the implementation and cost of the project over the phone, saying he was not the district council's spokesman.

The acting Tarime district executive director, Mr Mathius Mwibombi, also admitted over the phone that implementation of the project had started. But he would not give details because he was attending a meeting in Mwanza City.

Speaking under the condition of anonymity, one of the lake basin experts said the exploration had already been accomplished. He said experts were currently designing the shallow and deep water wells and water ponds.

He said a task force comprising experts from the lake basin and district council was implementing the project whose actual cost could be determined by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.