Tabaka and Sameta hills in Kisii County own the most valuable type of soapstone rock in the world. However, this precious white gold of Gusiiland is far from benefiting the region. We take a closer look at Sameta soapstone tycoons running away with all the profits.
Soapstone field owners, miners, and carvers continue to suffer poverty even as middlemen smile their way to the bank. The situation has only been getting worse among Sameta residents. Locals are now decrying peanut pay for tones of Soapstone rocks transported from the hillside.
How Sameta soapstone tycoons are exploiting local villagers
Our recent trip to Sameta hills in Bobasi Constituency was both relaxing and upsetting. Seeing the skyline and flowing hills that make Gusii highland was fun enough.
On the other hand, noisy trucks scavenging for soapstone rocks caught our attention.
It is the same experience one may expect within the vicinity of Tabaka soapstone mines.
The plight of Kisii soapstone miners
Close talks with Sameta villagers exposed us to the rotten state of Soapstone mining in Kisii.
One villager explained to us the struggle of mining and collecting broken pieces of soapstone to load a 6-tyre-truck at a little pay of Ksh. 1,700.
This price includes everything from the cost of stones to the labour provided without cover on involved risks.
On the contrary, finished ceramics are costly in the retail market; where each tile has a price tag exceeding Ksh. 1,500.
Who are Sameta soapstone tycoons?
Top in the list of Sameta soapstone tycoons is a Kajiado based ceramic manufacturer in Kenya.
Locals allege that this unnamed company is operating in the area without proper licensing from the Kisii County government.
Initial findings have revealed that soapstone loaded trucks from Sameta Hills ply the Itumbe, Igare, Nyabisabo, Keumbu, Keroka Road which leads to Nairobi and then Kajiado.
Proposed Soapstone Company in Kisii
A proposed Soapstone company in South Mugirango remains a long term solution unlikely to wipe the tears of currently desperate mine owners.
Meanwhile, it is unclear if Kisii County government is aware about this culprit company and its unfair dealings with Sameta soapstone miners.
Sameta soapstone tycoons are not only exploiting miners but also threatening to wipe out the region’s white gold at throw away prices. We can only hope that the incoming Kisii County government will take action to relief the plight of Tabaka and Sameta soapstone miners.