Paladin reneges on Karonga locals

Paladin Africa, the company that is running Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga district has reportedly started buying food stuffs from Tukuyu in Tanzania depriving hardworking locals of income.

The development has since irked local suppliers, who blame the procurement shift to the departure of the Australian born Chris Mattinson, who used to buy from locals without much bargaining and at good prices.

Some of the food stuff that the mine buys are: Cooking oil, Sugar, Bread, Beans, Green beans, Maize flour, Vegetables, Tomatoes, Onion, Meat, Chicken, Potatoes, Fruits, Eggs and Fish.

However, the company’s alleged policy shift is in direct contrast to its commitment two years ago that it will support locals.

Kayelekera site

Kayelekera mine has now reached two years, but before the mining started Paladin Africa promised the Malawi Government and people of Karonga that they will not only mine uranium but also be involved in the development and welfare of the people.

The locals confirmed to Nyasa Times that during Mattinson’s tenure they were very happy but when Malawians took over after his departure things changed for the worse.

“This has really brought our businesses down and we don’t see the benefit of the Uranium Mine here,” said a vegetable supplier, who did not want to be named.

A Rice Farmer, Royce Mwakishombe said told Nyasa Times that she used to sell her rice at Kayelekera and because of good prices she managed to build a modern house and pay fees for her children at private schools.

“But that is not possible now and we are now at the mercy of Tanzanians who usually buy from us at prices below productions costs and then resell to Kayelekela,” Mwakishombe said.

But the new Head of Food Procurement, Chikumbutso Mwenelupembe, while dodging the Tanzanian issue admitted that now they are buying few food stuffs because they now have fewer workers.

Mwenelupembe said initially the company had 3000 workers because construction was still in progress but now that everything is finished they have less than 1000 workers.

But District Commissioner for Karonga, Gasten Macheka told Nyasa Times that Karonga is enjoying tremendous development than other district in the country.

Macheka said that businesses such as farming, private schools, transport and other sector have developed within a very short time because of the mine.

“Now every person has something to do, because it is not hard to find employment as it was the case sometime back. We have almost all banks that you can find throughout Malawi,” said Macheka.

And Traditional Authority Karonga predicted that in the next five years Karonga will be a well developed town in the northern region.

“The eyes are seeing for themselves; people are now having three good meals a day, are building modern houses as if there are on a competition, big airplanes that people of Mzuzu City have not seen, are landing daily at Karonga Airport,” Karonga claimed.

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