Benue Community Protests Alleged Neglect Amid Limestone Exploitation

Benue Community Protests Alleged Neglect Amid Limestone Exploitation

LResidents of the Tse-Kucha community in the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State have taken to the streets to protest against the Dangote Cement Company, accusing them of neglect in the face of the detrimental effects caused by limestone dust on the community and its surroundings.

The protesters expressed their frustration with the limestone dust and erosion that has been ravaging a significant part of their community. Armed with placards bearing messages such as “We are a peaceful people and do not anticipate a breakdown of law and order,” “Save Tse Kucha from the ravaging limestone dust,” and “We produce the limestone for Dangote Cement and deserve better,” they voiced their grievances about the hardships inflicted on the community due to limestone exploitation.

Organisation under the Quarry Families Association in Gboko, the protesters have made it clear that unless concrete actions are taken to address their distressing situation, work at the Dangote Cement Gboko Plant will be halted.

Recent reports reveal that the affected families have begun camping on the outskirts of the limestone quarry at Tse Kucha, near Gboko, to protest against what they perceive as the company’s disregard for their plight.

However, concerns arise that what started as a peaceful protest might escalate into a confrontation, as the protesters claim to have been warned by the military to vacate the area or face severe consequences.

One of the protesters stated that they are not afraid, as they have experienced similar situations in the past. Nonetheless, their primary objective is to seek resettlement due to the proximity of mining activities to their residential areas.

During blasting or while work is ongoing at the factory, the generated dust becomes unbearable. The impact and vibrations from the daily limestone blasts by explosives have resulted in cracked walls in their homes, dust-covered trees, and contamination of water sources.

Joseph Orsugh, who participated in the protest, informed journalists that the company’s operations have turned the entire community into stingy individuals, as they can no longer eat outside, contrary to their long-standing tradition, in order to share meals with strangers.

Mary Mkerga, a 60-year-old grandmother, expressed that she would rather die than continue to face the associated risks posed by mining activities in the area, such as dust-related health issues, reduced crop yields, and water contamination. She highlighted that the company has blatantly ignored their concerns and dismissed their peaceful protests aimed at conveying their demands.

A senior staff member of the company, who preferred to remain anonymous, informed journalists that the management will provide comments once the situation is brought under control.

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