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Extortion Of Artisanal Miners Worsens Poverty In Moroto

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MOROTO: The poor artisanal miners in Moroto district have been left helpless after marble stone traders abandoned buying stones from the community citing high taxation of stones by alleged ministry of energy officials.
Previously marble stone dealers who buy stones from local community in Moroto pay Shs20,000 per tone for a truck carrying 30 tones as loyalty but under unclear reasons  the prices has been raised to Shs1million something that has chased away stones dealers.
Apparently most Karimojong reformed rustlers who handed over their guns to government have been surviving through breaking marble stones and earning a living.
Surprisingly, the regional mineral office based in Moroto has given all powers to Sunbelt who’s also an investor cutting stones to be in charge of collecting this loyalty on behalf of the ministry of energy.  The local miners have since protested the move accusing Mr. Gerald Eneku the regional inspector of minerals for Karamoja for creating his own decisions with intention to deny opportunity for the locals to survive.
Mario Longoria one of the reformed rustlers who has  now found fortune in stone breaking says he has been managing life through selling his tones adding that from last week he has not sold the stones after the stone dealers who buy their stones suspended the business due to over taxing.
“We shall not go back to raid animals but we shall look for Eneku and deal with him because he’s again messing up with our source of living”-Longoria says.
Mathew Lokut another stone dealer wondered how an investor is given powers to tax local traders on behalf of government.
“This just an Avenue of defrauding money from government and IGG must come and look at this,”he said.
Ronald Mayambala a driver who transports stones to Jinja to a factory says they cant continue with the stone business due to high price.
“We spend Shs3million for buying stones and fueling a half trailer truck to and from Moroto but now we have been taxed Shs1.8million as royalty and this is too high to be honest”-he says.
Mr David Koryang the district chairperson Moroto says government needs to understand the plight of the people of Karamoja. According to Mr David currently many families are facing hunger harder and that its only through stone breaking making them to survive.
“Its not good to give a holly treatment to foreign companies to mistreat the locals'”he said.
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