The COVID-19 pandemic and measures put in place by the state government to contain the spread poses lots of challenges to artisanal miners and the host communities.
At Ameri Ikwo, Ameka Ezza, and Enyigba, the artisanal miners complain of no sales as a result of the lockdown and restriction of movement. The onset of rains means that the sites are flooded and they lack the equipment needed to drain the water and continue their operation.
The cost of the products are very low and there are no customers since state borders are closed. They lack the income to meet the daily family demands. They are forced to stay at home and many families are in distress.
At First Patriot ( Royal Salt) Company, a report has it that the company has not provided any palliatives to the workers who also work at low production due to the challenges posed by the restrictions.
At Umuogharu crushing sites, the story is more pitiable as the women working at the sites hardly afford money to go home since sales are almost nonexistent. We went to the site and provided some of them with rice. Poverty and hunger are evident among the people especially the women.
The period is a trying period for many families especially those who are not on regularised employment such as the daily workers. The cost of food items has also gone up and also cost of transportation since the state government banned the use of motorcycles as a means of transportation and the imposition of curfew from 7 pm to 7 am.
The Civil Society Organisations are also challenged at this period.
These are some of the findings evident at most of the sites visited.