May 25, 2015 News
The police report on the Mowasi mining pit tragedy that claimed the lives of ten miners is to be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further advice during the course of the week.
According to a source, the police are still collecting statements from some of the survivors. However once completed, it will be up to the DPP to decide whether the owner of the concession, Imran Khan, is criminally liable in one of Guyana’s worst mining accidents in recent memory.
The pit collapse, which occurred on May 17, claimed the lives of Leyland Jones, 38, called ‘Foots’ of Grove, East Bank Demerara, who was the gold operations General Manager; his nephew Jason Trotman, 21; of Samatta Point, Grove Housing Scheme; Raymond August of 229 Bent Street, Dartmouth, Essequibo; Bobby Brittlebank of 98 Wislock Housing Scheme, Linden; Michael Gardner of Better Hope, ECD; Sheldon and Orlando Clario; Desmond Martins; Trevon Phillips and Nanmore Kurt.
The injured have been identified as Alex Green, 28, of Lima Essequibo Coast; Regan Green, 21, of Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast; Collymore Lewis, 34, of Moraikobai Mission, Mahaicony; Sheldon Adams, 32, of Beehive, East Coast Demerara; Lazarus Andrews, 49, of Nappi, Central Rupununi and Henry Xavier, 37, of Paramakatoi, North Pakaraima.
While some of the families held funeral services following the post mortem examinations on Friday, others are in the process of making arrangements for their loved ones.
Kaieteur News understands that Khan has been trying to do his part, including providing assistance with the funeral expenses and attending those funerals.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), who were part of a team of officials that traveled into Mowasi the day after the tragedy, have already completed their investigation into the tragedy.
According to the GGMC, Khan was in breach of several safety regulations mandated to be followed when digging past a depth of 50ft. Khan’s workers are reported to have been operating at a depth of 90ft.
Worse, it was revealed that Khan had a sordid history with the GGMC dating back to 2013. According to GGMC, Edward Hopkinson, the rightful owner of Khan’s claim, had made a complaint on August 8, 2013, that Khan had been mining on his concession without approval.
A subsequent investigation by GGMC revealed several mining breaches within the camp. These caused the body to secure two injunctions, a cease work order and an order for Khan to remove within 48 hours.
In a counter move, however, Khan secured an injunction against Hopkinson and GGMC on August 21, 2013, restraining them from interfering in his operation until a hearing on September 10 that same year to continue the injunction.
When nothing came out of the hearing, the injunction remained against Hopkinson and the regulatory body, allowing Khan to continue his enterprise.
According to the release, as recent as April 1, 2015 officers from the commission inspecting operations in Pepper Creek found that Khan was still operating in an unsafe and dangerous manner, but when GGMC’s technical officers made attempts to advise and sanction the personnel, they were shown the injunction barring them from acting.
In the wake of the tragedy, the head of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) Patrick Harding has stated that the accident could have been avoided had the proper safety regulations been adhered to.
In an interview with this publication, he also spoke of what played out during his visit, as part of the team of officials to Mowasi.
According to him, Khan had initially stated that he was not given advice and instructions on the proper safety practices. However, he said, this was unlikely given that it was a large scale operation.
Expressing the responsibility on the GGMC and GGDMA to advise miners on safety and environmental procedures, he also issued a plea to miners to adhere to the safety regulations laid out by authorities, especially in view of the rainy season, where the ground was largely unstable.
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