THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Keketso Rantšo, has threatened to push the government to revoke the operating licence of Tikoe River Stones Pty Ltd, a quarry mining company in the Tikoe area in Maseru, due to the destruction of residents’ houses caused by its blast activities.
Ms Rantšo, who resides in Masowe 3, recently teamed up with fellow residents and took to the streets to protest against the mine by blocking the area’s main access road with rocks. The protestors were only dispersed by Thetsane police officers who drove them along with their area chief, Koenane Matsoso, to a meeting with the mine’s director, Lefa Monaheng at the company’s offices.
Speaking at the meeting, Ms Rantšo said many residents’ houses were on the verge of collapse from the effects of the blasting at the company hence operations must be halted until the company finds alternative machinery which does not threaten their houses. The residents also want the company to stop working until an environmental assessment is conducted.
“Our houses are falling off from the blasting,” Ms Rantšo said.
“My walls have cracks and the windows have been shattered. We have complained about this for a long time but they (Tikoe River Stones) have ignored us and have continued the blasting as if our complaints do not matter.
“They (operators) do not abide by the law. They are destroying our houses but they are not bothered because all they are concerned about is making money. We have sought help from various offices but no one has come forward to hear us out.
“It pains me that my house has so many cracks. We are supposed to be paying back the loans that we acquired from the banks to build our houses but we cannot do so because we now have to repair the damages that have been caused by Tikoe River Stones.”
Ms Rantšo’s threat to have the mine’s operating licence revoked came after Mr Monaheng suggested that the government was partly to blame for the bad practice of his bosses by not tightening screws on operators who do not follow the regulations.
Mr Monaheng blamed his Chinese employers for lacking interest to address the communities’ grievances. He also said the government must tighten screws to ensure that the company complies with the country’s laws.
Mr Monaheng drew the ire of the villagers when he blamed the government for giving licences to the Chinese operators who have break the country’s laws.
“I am very sorry that this is happening. But it feels like I am being attacked on a personal level. It is a pity that the same people are given licences by the government. I blame the government for this one,” Monaheng said.
He however, said he would communicate the villagers’ grievances to the mine owners “but could not guarantee” their willingness to stop operations pending an environmental assessment.