Authorities in Budalang’i, Busia County have banned sand harvesting after three people died after were buried alive while digging at a quarry in the area.
Bunyala Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner Jacob Ruto Thursday warned that those who will be found excavating sand will be arrested and prosecuted.
He said young men have been engaging in the now booming business illegally.
One lorry of sand goes for Sh2,000.
“We have taken this stern action to avert more deaths. The soil structure in Budalang’i is very weak and can cave in easily especially during this rainy season,” he said.
He said his office is working closely with chiefs and their assistants to ensure the ban is adhered to.
“We have asked police to assist us to arrest those who will defy the ban. We urge our political class to stop interfering with efforts to stem illegal sand harvesting and mining in the region,” Mr Ruto added.
The ban comes just a week after 27-year-old Klegan Otieno, who had gone to harvest sand in Gimini village in Bunyala North, was buried alive after the walls of a sand quarry caved in.
This was the third incident in a span of one year.
Barely a week ago, a man died after he was buried alive while harvesting sand at the same quarry.
Otieno, a resident of Bondo in Siaya County, defied advice from his colleagues not to resume sand harvesting after the rains stopped.
After the incident, leaders from the sub-county urged the government to take effective steps to prevent deaths resulting from sand harvesting.
But the ban has been met with resistance with a section of leaders opposing it.
Nominated MCAs Bernard Odako and Patrick Obongoya said majority of unemployed youth from the region depend on the activity as their main source of livelihood and banning it will render them jobless.
The two leaders said there is urgent need for the government to create employment opportunities for youth.
“Banning them from harvesting sand might force them to engage in crime to make ends meet,” Mr Obongoya said.
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