An underground cleaner has died after a machine smashed his chest inside a mining pit in the latest tragedy to have befallen the Shaanxi Mining Company Limited in Talensi, a district in the Upper East region.
The Upper East Regional Hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr Patrick Atobrah, told Starr News Baarn Loligbil-Tii died on arrival last Friday with his ribcage, lungs and heart badly affected.
In a separate incident that almost saw three more lives lost same day, a poisonous smoke, discharged from a mining explosive, engulfed a pit where the Chinese company operates and choked those trapped inside.
“Four people were brought in,” said Dr Atobrah on Monday. “One was dead on arrival. The three people— one was discharged, I think yesterday or two days ago; the two are on the ward; I saw them this morning; they are all fine. The fuse from a blast affected them.”
The misfortune comes five months after a driller had his leg ripped open in an accident at same mines and four mine-workers including a ‘supervisor’ collapsed after inhaling a mining explosive fume. The May tragedy survivors lodged a unanimous complaint with the press about failure on the company’s part to provide them with protective gears – a claim the company’s Public Relations Officer, Maxwell Wooma, waved aside as false.
Conflicting reports on latest mining death
With her protector no longer by her side, the ‘lonely’ widow is too disconsolate to explain to the three children left behind how the same work their father did to raise them has taken him away from them forever.
Two reports have emerged, each one telling something different how the miner, believed to be between thirty and forty years of age, came to a fatal harm in a mining tunnel.
“What we heard was that the company has a container which the miners normally would enter to take them into the pit. Whenever the container is about to go up, a bell is pressed. And anytime the container is coming down, they press that bell.
“A heap of ore was resting where the container would stop as it’s coming down. Somebody asked him to clear the heap. As he was doing that, the container came from the top and crashed him. This is what we heard,” said Daniel Mongya, a brother to the crushed miner.
But according to the company’s press officer, the miner was alone in the pit when a metallic “cage that moves up and down at the shaft bottom pressed him down”. He spoke to Starr News as an autopsy was being conducted Monday afternoon on Baarn’s body at the Upper East Regional Hospital’s morgue.
“He was the last man at the shaft bottom. And a supervisor came down in the cage up to the level-seven station. He himself, according to the supervisor, informed the supervisor to ring the bell for the winch operator to lower the cage (or the bucket) down into the pocket, which is the lower part of the pit.
“According to the supervisor, he (the supervisor) actually rang the bell, signaling that the bucket should be lowered further. He was just about walking away when he heard the person who had ordered that the bucket be lowered screaming. He turned back, looked down there and apparently he was under the same bucket he had called for. The bucket had pressed him face down. He rang the bell for the bucket to be lifted upwards. The bucket was lifted upwards. He picked him up into the bucket and brought him to the surface. There is a possibility that he wasn’t properly positioned and the bucket pressed him down. That is the suspicion,” Mr. Wooma said, adding that the three men choked by the fume in the Shaanxi pits were trespassers.
Chinese murdering our people – Opinion Leader
Tii-roug Yaro Zumah, an opinion leader at Gbani, the suburb the tragedy struck, has reacted in very strong terms to the latest mishap, describing it as “another ritual killing too many” in the area.
“It is usual to say it’s an annual ritual. But this one is becoming a quarterly ritual. There is no four or five months that come by without having such a tragedy at Shaanxi. Like I told you the other time, because of the operations of Shaanxi, we have not less than 50 widows, single mothers. With what has just happened again, the number has risen with another single mother from Namolgo. That single mother is going to suffer with these three children. Are the Chinese going to support these children in any way to complete their schooling?
“It is also unfortunate, like I said the other time, we have big men, politicians and kinsmen who are involved in helping the Chinese to do what they are doing. They are increasingly murdering our people in the name of mining. To me, this is murder. It is clear that the BNI has picked it up and I know the police are investigating it,” said Mr. Zumah, who is also former Secretary to the late Chief of the Gbani Traditional Area, Naab Pubootaaba Naabil.
According to him, the Ghanaian mineworkers at the company are poorly remunerated and when an employee dies through an accident at the mines, the family of deceased is given nothing more than a Gh¢6,000 consolation package.
“All those who are in control of the Chinese have been gagged. I was just told yesterday that the inspectorate team from Kumasi would be coming down today. I don’t know whether they are in. They keep on coming anytime an incident and a report is given; yet we keep on encountering these tragedies. I don’t know which of the mines in Ghana we encounter deaths every three or four months. This is what is happening to us at Gbani. If care is not taken, by December another one will happen.
“We need to understand how the Chinese operate. But here you have a whole chief supporting them, politicians supporting them. Why not let them stop work and investigation set up to find out the causes of all these deaths? They have been here not up to ten years and we have lost over 50 people. People have been maimed. They cannot continue to kill our people and we will keep quiet,” he added.