Construction material extractors and sellers in distress

In the warm sun, sand, stones and gravel extractors sit along the Ntahangwa River, in north of the capital Bujumbura. They seem to be desperate. They have not been working for a month. “Our families live in extremely difficult conditions since the government suspended the activities of extracting construction materials …

Heaps of stones extracted from Ntahangwa River, in northern Bujumbura

Heaps of stones extracted from Ntahangwa River, in northern Bujumbura

We have become jobless. Our children can’t get school fees anymore. We are no longer able to give the ration and pay the rent, “says N.J, a stone extractor. He believes that the government should make reforms within the mining sector without suspending people’s activities. “It is a big loss for our families and the whole country,” he says adding that many families living thanks to this profession suffer financial consequences.

The National Security Council had suspended from October 1 the activities of associations and companies that exploit and sell minerals and construction materials namely sand, gravel, stones…for a period of one month so that order should be restored and mineral extractors comply with the law governing the mines and energy sector.

M. I, owner of a lorry carrying building materials, says his family suffers the same problems. “If construction material extractors do not work, we will not have a market. Our vehicles stay parked for days as we don’t have customers,” he says.

This measure also affects the inhabitants of Bujumbura who have construction sites. They had to suspend building activities. Some of them fear that their sites will be damaged by the rain. “I have suspended the activities of rehabilitating my house due to lack of construction materials. I wanted to have it rented. My client is supposed to occupy it with the beginning of December. I find that it is no longer possible. I risk violating the contract,” says D.N, owner of a house in Rohero, in central Bujumbura.

Some sources say they can buy stones, sands and gravels at an exorbitant price from those who manage to get them. “A truck of stones that used to be bought at BIF 95,000 currently costs BIF 120,000,” he says.
Building material extractors call on the government to lift the measure and continue the reform process within the sector without suspending their activities. “The measure was a surprise for us. Nobody had ever accused us of working illegally. We do not understand what we are victims of, “says N.J.