Bauxite mining’s poverty spreading to Walkerswood

Linton Gordon

Bauxite mining has now arrived in Walkerswood, Saint Ann. There is
large scale mining of bauxite taking place to the east and south of
Walkerswood. The bauxite company is carrying out its activities with
no regard to the green hills of Walkerswood and the level fields where
cattle rearing and the planting of ground provisions are main
activities.
There are only two persons from Walkerswood who are employed to
the Bauxite Company. The Community is therefore totally
disconnected from this massive economic activity. However the
community is paying a large price because there is now a dust
nuisance affecting nearly all households, especially in the area of
Walkerswood called Cottage. The bauxite mining activities are being
extensively carried out east of Cottage. The dust from the activities is
blown into the homes of citizens, and persons are now being affected
not only by having to do more cleaning, but also by medical issues
arising from dust nuisance.
There will no more be a ‘Nanny House’, which all old soldiers will
tell you is a landmark in the training area at Woodfield in
Walkerswood. There is no longer the fertile enclave called
‘Womantown’, as this has been totally destroyed by the mining
machines carving their tracks through the farm lands of
Walkerswood.
There is, in principle, nothing wrong with us mining bauxite as this is
a significant economic activity that is bringing benefits to the country.
However, the history of bauxite mining in Saint Ann is not a positive
one. The northern areas of Saint Ann, stretching from Saint Mary to
Trelawny, are comprised of some of the poorest communities in

Jamaica. They all have one common factor, and it is that bauxite has
been mined in these areas.
The citizens of Saint Ann have little or nothing to show that they
have received from the mining of bauxite.  Faiths Pen is now
an impoverished community. So too is Inverness, Alexandria, St.
D’Acre, Watt Town, Riverhead, Alva and Alderton to name a few.
When these communities that are mined out are viewed from the air,
they have the appearance of a landscape on which bombs have been
dropped. This is a result of the several crater-like holes that the
bauxite companies leave after mining bauxite. None of these
communities have a high school that was constructed by a bauxite
company operating in their communities. They have no good roads,
reliable water supply, health facility, police station, fire station, nor
anything of significance that they can point to as evidence that their
communities benefited significantly from the presence of the bauxite
companies.
In fact, the bauxite companies, and particularly the one operating in
Walkerswood, usually display a level of arrogance and high
handedness. They turn up in the community without giving any notice
to citizens of the impending noise from the mining activity, vibration
of buildings from blasting, and the inevitable dust nuisance. Citizens
simply awake one day and realize that they are about to see a
fundamental change to the landscape of their community.
Over the years our Government has failed to treat the communities in
which bauxite mining activities take place with any respect. No effort
is made to connect the mining activities to the interest of the citizens.
There is therefore a total disconnect between this very significant
economic activity, bauxite mining, and the citizens. There is
widespread complaint by citizens in these communities that the
bauxite companies routinely fail and/or refuse to restore the mined-
out lands to a standard where they can continue with farming
activities. Instead of restoring the lands, the bauxite companies leave
these huge craters which in many instances are so deep and steep at
the sides that they constitute grave danger to citizens and their
animals.

It is now fit and proper for the government to take a serious look at
how bauxite mining activities are affecting adjacent communities.
Citizens in these communities should be paid the courtesy of visits
being made to them and an explanation being given to them of what is
taking place and how their interest and their health will be protected.
Finally, the Government must find a way to use funds earned from
bauxite mining to benefit these communities directly so that there can
be some connection between the bauxite mining activities and the
community’s ultimate welfare.

Share