The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bawa Bwari has assured the Quarry Owners Association of government commitment to harness the sector, which has immensely contributed to the economic growth of the nation.
Welcoming the visiting team led by their Chairman, Malam Nasir Ibrahim, at his office in Abuja the Minister, who formally recognized the existence of the group noted that their contributions in the mining sector has yielded to revenue generation, job creation and unquantifiable development in various communities where they operated.
He reeled out the challenges facing the Association as earlier raised by their leader such as the issue of multiple taxation and illegal formation of quarry, especially by the government agencies and area councils; need for grants to supplement funds expended on quarry activities and thereby reduce operational costs; Buffer Zones around quarry areas to safeguard their investments and avoid harassment often experienced at various sites; timely intervention of the Ministry to lift the suspension placed on stone blasting and noted that the issues will be looked into in order to enhance their productivity for sustainable national growth.
Bwari, among other things, urged them to increase the level of their interaction with the Ministry, which is the regulatory body for mining activities to foster sharing of the envisaged challenges with experts in the sector and communities where they carry out their activities to ensure a re-focused attention in mining activities, adding that the group should also liaise with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which is into construction to resolve the issue of Buffer Zone.
The Minister, specifically, explained that the decision of government to suspend stone blasting was to find the actual cause of earth tremor experienced in some parts of FCT. According to him, the preliminary investigations by Ministry of Works and Housing, and National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) indicated that quarry activities has no link to the incident, however, the report of the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up for the occurrence is still being awaited to enable the lifting of the ban. He thanked them for their cooperation and outstanding performance in the discharge of their duties aimed at promoting growth and development in the country.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the group said they were in the Ministry to introduce the umbrella body, which comprised of all the stakeholders to the Minister; project their interest as critical partners of the government and seek effective incorporation of the group in the mining sector.
According to him, there is no gainsaying that the activities of the association has generated revenue for the Ministry and served as the bedrock of Infrastructural development in FCT, consequently, it should be fully integrated in the policy drive of the Ministry as stipulated in the mining sector.
He decried the above mentioned problems bedeviling the sector and made a passionate appeal for the Ministry to set up a ministerial committee to tackle such challenges and ensure conducive environment to actualize their potentials and add value to national growth.
The Chairman thanked the Minister for supporting and encouraging the process towards realizing the government’s vision for the Nigerian Mining industry