Several villagers of Sippi Village on the Sanniquellie Highway in Nimba have reportedly been wounded from particles of rock from the CSE rock crusher.
The villagers told the Daily Observer that on Friday, April 5, 2021, at about 5 p.m., some pieces of rock began dropping down in their village, destroying houses and wounding people.
According to the villagers, the incident happened after the Senegalese road construction firm ‘Compagnie Saheliamae D’Enterprise (CSE) blasted some boulders at their rock crushing plant, which is very close to the village.
Some of the pieces of the rock that fell on the village appeared so big that an individual can hardly lift it.
“The house got destroyed by a rock from the blasting of rock from the CSE Rock Crusher,” said David N. Zowawon, a resident of the village. He pointed to the roof of his house, where the rock penetrated and fell in the center of the living room.
“If we all were here at the time of the blasting, it would have been dangerous to our lives,” he added.
In the village, several large pieces of rock were seen all around on the ground as some of the villagers pointed at them as a team of journalists walked through.
They also complained that the rock crushing and mining had polluted the air and water sources that they claim is likely to cause a health hazard.
The villagers also complained that CSE had failed to meet up with its obligations, which call for building hand pumps and a primary school, though they did not show any written agreement between them and the CSE.
The incident led the villagers to block the road leading to the rock quarry, putting a halt to all crushing activities on April 6, 2021, until the intervention of the local leaders.
However, the Bain-Garr Administrative District Commissioner, Mr. Amos Gbatu, confirmed the incident but said the issue was laid to rest when the company agreed to underwrite the cost of the damage done and to put in place safety mechanisms to avoid recurrence.
He said the seven persons wounded in the April 5 incident were taken to the hospital at the expense of CSE.
“Only one of the ladies sustained an injury on her arm, but the rest encountered minor injuries and they underwent treatment and returned home the same day,” he said.
When reached for reaction, the CSE authority did not respond as accordingly it is the company’s policy not to speak to the press.
The CSE rock crusher is about 10 minutes walk away from the Sippi Village, while the rock mining site is 25 minutes away. The villagers are therefore suggesting, amid the incident, that the company relocates in order to prevent further danger.
CSE is constructing the road from Ganta to Yekepa, the town where ArcelorMittal is currently mining iron ore. The company (CSE) mines the rock near the village to use for the pavement which is ongoing, and relocating from the area would be cost-intensive, thus creating some setback for the road project.