Selebi-Phikwe community questions BCL safety measures

SELEBI- PHIKWE: The community of the mining town is concerned with accidents at the BCL mine, and have called on the mine management to ensure safety measures are strictly adhered to.

This follows the latest mining accident which claimed three lives during the public holidays.

Mmegi town heard the heartfelt pleas of concerned community members, many of whom believe the mining accidents are a result of negligence by BCL management. This is what Selebi-Phikwe residents had to say:

* Kabelo Maphorisa: “BCL mine’s safety is questionable, thorough investigations must be carried out to see if the Selebi mine can remain operational because it puts people’s lives in danger.”

He noted that young people who are breadwinners are continuing to lose their lives at the BCL mine.  “It is sad that we are losing the young generation. These victims are breadwinners who have families to take care of. Some of their dependants are orphans who need to be taken care of.”

Maphorisa called for change in the safety systems.  “The mining system must be changed, going underground is very dangerous if there is any means that can be used to extract copper then BCL should consider it.”

He also noted that the mine is very old and believed it was time the BCL considered shutting it down. “Selebi mine is very old and there are rumors that the mine will be closed. I am surprised that this has not happened. If this mine has got to a point that it must be closed then that should be done than putting people’s lives in danger. It can still be utilised as a tourist attraction site.”

*Goabaone Gaditshwane was also of the view that safety measures at BCL mine are not up to standard. “This mine’s safety is questionable as already six people have died this year, it shows that there is negligence at the mine. BCL mine should also change its mining system because the system they use has proved unsafe, it is high time something is done about this mine and the most painful thing is people who are exposed to this danger earn peanuts,” she said.

* Another community member who preferred to be anonymous said that the management should ensure that its employees’ safety comes first.

He said that at times employees are expected to take some risks in order for the mine to reach its production target without considering their safety first.

“This mine is still going to kill people because its management does not care about their employees. Mahupela must resign, if he really cares about his employees, he would be visiting mining sites.

He spends most of his time enjoying the comfort of his office and people are losing their lives.

Former BCL general manager Montwedi Mphathi had the safety of his employees at heart.  He even visited sites unlike Mahupela,” he said.

He argued that the underground allowance should be increased to motivate the employees, especially since the low salaries frustrate employees.

“He (the general manager) must increase the underground allowance rather than giving peanuts to people whose lives are always in danger. These people work hard and BCL should ensure that they are satisfied and safe from accidents. Going underground is not a joke.”

 The community also expressed concern over negligence of safety measures by some of the employees.

*One of the residents, who also preferred anonymity, alleged that, “some of these accidents are caused by negligence of employees and BCL mine alone cannot be blamed. Of course they must ensure that their employees are safe but employees should also be careful and exercise safety,” he said.

Proper training is also key.  “BCL management should ensure that their employees are properly trained before going underground, some of the accidents are caused by lack of knowledge.

If employees are properly trained and taught about safety then we would not be having many accidents,” he said.

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