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Rains Kick Katwe Salt Miners Out of Business

Moses Baluku Kininga, who has been in the salt extraction business for the last 15 years, says that the rains have raised the water levels, damaged the salt pans packed salt and increased the costs on pumping water out. He says that their operations over the last five months were drastically affected.
08 Jan 2020 12:24
A section of Katwe with stale business

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Heavy rains have disrupted operations at Katwe Salt Mining Lake and thrown several miners out of business.

The crate laker situated inside Queen Elizabeth National Park, is the main source of salt in Uganda, producing blocks of rock salt, high-quality salt crystals that can be sold as table salt and salty mud that is used as salt licks for cattle.

It is partitioned into square-like saltpans dug using hoes and demarcated using earth and pieces of wood which are placed at the margins of the lake to mainly intensify the evaporation and concentrate the salt. It is from the saltpans that salt crystals are easily extracted from the bottom during the dry season.

But the extraction process has been affected in recent months, following heavy rains in parts of Rwenzori. This is mainly because extraction of the salt from the Lake involves standing waist or chest-deep in water for several hours. When the water level increases, the process becomes risky.

Moses Baluku Kininga, who has been in the salt extraction business for the last 15 years, says that the rains have raised the water levels, damaged the saltpans packed salt and increased the costs on pumping out water. He says that their operations over the last five months were drastically affected.

He adds that a few miners who have money are able to acquire machines to pump out water.

//Cue in; “kandi ntusubiira ekyali…

Cue out…Nanye kambirugeho ngende//

When URN visited the mines, a number of salt pans lay idle with only a few individuals in business.

Jackson Kaija, who was forced to leave extracting salt and venture into Bodaboda business during the rainy season, says the business has slowed down and pushed many out. He adds that the rains characterized by winds hinder their movement with some operators fainting.

//Cue in; “nyowe nkakoraho omunyanja… 

Cue out…mugufu habulingya bwenyanja.”//

With over 800 pans registered by Katwe Town Council, John Bosco Kananura says the slow business has affected their revenues.  He, however, declined to reveal how much the town council collects from the salt mines.

//Cue in; you know the…

 Cue Out... paying on time.”//

He adds that a number of young people who have been working at the lake are now jobless.

Besides salt mining, the lake is a big tourist destination with visitors including students, tourists and sometimes researchers.  

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