KAMPALA- Police have sent hundreds of officers to Mubende District to evict illegal gold miners in sub counties of Kitumbi and Bukuya in Mubende District.
The officers are expected to start evictions on Friday. The operation is likely to last for three months.
This follows last week’s order by Dr Stephen Isabalija, the permanent secretary of Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, to stop illegal mining in the two sub counties, which he said has caused environmental degradation and crime.
Mr Samson Lubega, the spokesman of the directorate of police operations, said the officers sent to the two sub counties to ensure that officials from the Directorate of Immigration and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development work without any hindrances.
“People have already been sensitised to leave the mines peacefully. We understand that there are many illegal miners who are still refusing to leave. Our work is to ensure that they leave as per the directive from the two institutions,” Mr Lubega said.
Mubende District has become a hub for gold mining and has attracted foreign miners from Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.
The miners have been leaping profits from the gold business without paying taxes, which officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development say is a loss of government revenue.
The eviction, according to energy ministry officials is intended to bring order in the gold mining and increase government revenue, according to energy ministry officials.
Several towns in the two sub counties have sprung up as a result of the gold business boom.
Dr Isabalija said the miners are using mercury and cyanide to process gold. He said the chemicals and are drained in water bodies which can affect human health.
Officials from the Directorate of Immigration and police plan to arrest foreigners who are operating in Mubende mines without proper documentation.
“This intervention is anticipated to take three months and will subsequently help the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to re-organise mining activities in Mubende area and the country at large,” Dr Isabalija said.
Dr Isabalija said the presence of foreigners in these areas can result into a security threat to the people of the area and the country.
He said they will establish measures to register all local artisans dealing in mining in the two sub counties in order to regulate them.
Generally, there is a rise in gold business in the country.
At the end of 2016 gold exports rose to $336m (Shs1.2 trillion), rivalling coffee.
This is the first time a single export has come close to coffee in many years.