CAR: Sand mining, a job provider for former militiamen

Jorres a sand miner works near the Oubangui river in the Central African Republic.
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Africanews Correspondant

Central African Republic

The banks of the Oubangui river in the Central African Republic are Jorres L.’s workplace. Prior to that, the 26 year-old fought for four years during the country’s civil war. His reintegration into civilian life was made possible through a job as a sand miner.

When I left the armed group, I looked for a job for quite some time but to no avail. Today, I work as a sand miner, and I can pay my rent. My wife and I are parents to six children, and I can take care of them all thanks to this job. Since then, I’ve been trying to convince my brothers who’re still in the neighbour doing nothing good to come and work here. You cannot be hired in this country, but this job enables me to support myself.

In a country which lacks industries, sand extraction has become a job provider for many young former fighters. Jeannet Kotisila owns a sand quarry and employs over 150 ex-militiamen as day labourers.

“Before working as a sand miner, many people in the neighborhood were unemployed. But ever since taking on this occupation they have a better life, they gave up on some of the things they used to do. Some of these workers were militiamen. This job has enabled them to start over, given them a good life.”

There are no official figures on the number of Central Africans working in sand quarries but this professor estimates that the sector is a significant contributor to the economy.

However, the lack of regulations means the workers have no guarantee on their health, security and income level.

“In terms of advantages, it’s already a good thing that these former fighters have surrendered their weapons and took up a normal job,” Hermann Elokoua a Professor and researcher at the University of Bangui reckoned.

“But the disadvantage is that these people aren’t organized, which means they don’t earn enough. Although they earn some money, this money won’t be enough to take care of them when they fall ill”.

As the CAR’s capital Bagui keeps expanding, the work of sand miner is more essential than ever.

Exports advocate for a better management of sand mines for the workers to earn a decent living.

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