Community threatens to block road to Paladin’s Kayelekela uranium mine


Despite mounting condemnation from organisations claiming legitimate representation of the business community in Karonga, some individuals say they are set to block the road to Kayelekera uranium mine on Tuesday.

But Paladin Energy Limited’s General Manager for International Affairs Greg Walker says the company is not shaken by the threats branding the demonstration an initiative by an individual.

The organisers say blocking the road marks the beginning of a two-week vigil held as part of demonstrations seeking to eject the company out of Karonga unless it fulfilled some issues as demanded by the organisers.

“On March 9 we have the final meeting with the DC and other stakeholders and the Police and we will submit a list of demonstration marshals to the police,” reads a statement signed by the organiser’s spokesperson Wavisanga Silungwe in part.

“Open March 10, we will start public rallies around Karonga townships and villages to sensitise the community on peaceful demonstration. At 6am on March 12, the road to Kayelekera uranium mine is blocked.”

Among other demands, the organizers want Paladin to open an account in Malawi; to disclose the projects on which the company claims to have spent K5billion; to rescind its decision to retrench Malawian workers saying it violates its Development Agreement Clause 12; and to guarantee an amount of money to restore the area after mining.

“The value of the bond must be based on costs estimated by International Environmental Conservation Agencies and not Paladin,” reads a petition addressed to Karonga District Commissioner and copied to Ministry of Mines and Paladin.

“The danger will be, when Kayelekera approaches the end of its profitability, the Directors can either vote themselves erroneous bonuses or declare the company bankrupt leaving the very expensive business of cleaning up our land to our Government.”

In a letter to the organisers, Karonga DC Emmanuel Bambe had warned of anarchy highlighting contrasting views on the demonstrations.

Walker said: “There were two people organising this demonstration. There was a meeting last Friday and chairperson of the organising committee withdrew which means that there is one person left. There is nothing to be scared of.”

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