Kwale residents have welcomed the exploration program by Base Titanium as they seek to reap significant employment opportunities that will change their lives.
At least over 800 locals comprising the youth, women and elders have been employed in various areas earning a living.
The Australian firm commenced the exploration exercise in several areas last year in a bid to extend the mining life.
The current minerals are expected to be depleted by December 2024.
Since the exercise began the area youth, women and elders have secured jobs and reported to have changed lives.
A resident, Ali Kasim Mwakazi said locals have been hired as supervisors, cooks, security and assistants in the exploration activities.
“More than 440 youth, 221 elders and 144 women have been contracted for various jobs,” he said.
Mwamakazi said the program comes as a game changer in their lives as many of them have transformed their living standards.
He said exploration exercises have awakened the sleepy areas and helped tackle poverty and insecurity in the villages the program runs.
The exploration is ongoing in about eight villages of Bumamani, Masindeni, Magaoni, Mwamae, Mwaloya, Majikuko, Mwandimu and Zigira.
Mwamakazi said within a short period locals can now be seen living a good life as the income enables them to effectively fend for their families and fulfil other basic needs.
He said their physical and mental health is also improving as many of the recently employed residents can afford food and save the rest of the money for development.
Mwamakazi said the youth have embraced peace and focus on the provided job opportunities to live decent lives thus enhancing security unlike before.
He said apart from the employment, residents are reaping big from the exploration exercise itself.
Mwamakazi said the company is drilling small holes for mineral sampling in the farms where owners are paid sh15, 000 per hole.
He said some can even have over 20 holes in one farm earning a lot of money.
He added that others have more than three plots in various villages all affected by exploration activities hence more benefits.
Another local Mwanashaban Iddi said the exploration program has changed the lives of women who were formerly unemployed and depended on hard labor jobs for survival.
Iddi said the area women are now active and productive since they get good salaries from the contracts they secured.
She said some have been hired in the exploration team while others supply workers with food and water services.
Iddi said the financial challenges have gone down as their pockets are full of coins.
“We are happy, the program alone has improved our financial status. What if the minerals are found? I swear it is all riches,” she said.
Iddi said their children are now living good lives wishing for the exercise to continue forever.
She said previously the women had to look for jobs in construction sites and farms which were hard to get.
The woman said they are at the moment relieved from all the hardships and are making good money.
She said some of their husbands and youth have been employed resulting in resilience and community growth.
“Our children and men are also employed promoting equal development because all of us are making money,” she said.
Iddi said previously the youth were engaging in theft activities as an alternative way of surviving.
“The insecurity was high but since the exploration program started security has improved,” she said.
One of the exploration community supervisors, Ramadhan Abdallah said they had to agree to the exploration activities considering its many benefits.
He said they were among the people objecting to it but they have moved to embrace the program after seeing how it transforms lives.
Abdallah said he and other colleagues have launched campaigns in support of the exploration program and many residents have welcomed it.
Base Titanium’s Government and Community Relations superintendent Masemo said the company is in the second phase of the exploration exercise that seeks to conduct deeper analysis using enhanced equipment.
He said the national government and locals that were previously resistant have shown goodwill and the exploration is going on smoothly.
“I can affirm that we received consent from the government to drill in public institutions and the number of families that were rejecting the program has also declined,” he said.
The officer said the only village where they received resistance was Magaoni but a huge percentage of the locals are willingly accepting the exploration program.
He said villages that have been found to have minerals in phase one are Magaoni, Zigira and Masindeni and that’s why they are going for the second round to further scrutinize the viability of minerals.
Masemo said at the moment the company has launched a post-exploration community capacity-building program.
He said the exercise seeks to update the community members on the progress of the exploration and steps that will be taken in case Base Titanium finds the required minerals.
Masemo said they also intend to keep the community’s good working relationship by observing transparency and fairness.