Deafening Blasts and Looming Homelessness: Chinese Quarry Company Casts Terrifying Shadow over Kwara Communities”l
Residents of 13 communities in Kwara State, Nigeria, are enduring the devastating consequences of rock blasting activities conducted by a Chinese-owned quarry company. The continuous explosions have resulted in the loss of homes and businesses, as well as causing severe hearing loss among the affected residents. The town of Orogbangba, located along the Ilorin-Ogbomoso Expressway, has borne the brunt of the quarry company’s disruptive operations.Abidemi Adegboyega, a resident of Ifesowapo community, recalls the terrifying experience of a loud blast that shook her one-room apartment. She describes the panic and chaos that ensued, with the house vibrating and white dust engulfing the sky. Adegboyega expresses her concern for the safety of her family and the fear of a potential collapse of their dwelling due to the incessant blasts.The impact of the quarry’s activities extends to 13 communities, including Ire Akari Jaleoyemi, Alubarika, Aiyetoro, Irewolede, Iwotedo, Oke Alayo, Ayegbami, Toluwalase, Waterside, Orire, Surulere, and Itesiwaju. The traditional ruler of Orogbangba, Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkarim, reveals that the explosions have caused significant structural damage to numerous houses, leaving them unsafe to inhabit. The community is plagued by cracks in walls and roofs, and residents live in constant fear of their homes collapsing.Despite the National Environmental Regulations prohibiting the siting of a quarry within a three-kilometer radius of residential areas, the investigation reveals that the China Kaidi quarry operates at a distance of less than 60 meters from the affected communities. The disregard for environmental laws exacerbates the plight of the residents.Scientific studies confirm the detrimental effects of quarry blasts and vibrations on nearby structures. Researchers from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute have found that blasting activities can cause damage to neighboring buildings and structures, leading to cracks in walls. Professor Ezzeldin Yazeed from the American University in Cairo emphasizes that ground vibrations resulting from subsurface construction blasting can harm residential buildings, causing cosmetic or structural damage.The impacted residents bear the brunt of the quarry’s activities, with frequent repairs and renovations becoming a never-ending cycle. Nusirat AbdulRasaq, a town planner, has had to rebuild her house multiple times due to the blast’s impact on its structure. Other residents, like Haleemat Qazeem, have experienced collapses and ongoing cracks, requiring constant renovations. The financial burden and frustration are taking a toll on the affected families.The Community Development Association chairman, Ahmed Ishaq, reports that most landlords have sold their houses and left Orogbangba due to the incessant explosions. The community’s development has stagnated, as people are unwilling to purchase land or establish businesses in the area. The constant blasts have also deterred potential buyers, as safety concerns overshadow any real estate prospects.The Chinese-owned quarry company employs explosives to blast rocks and extract minerals such as limestone, basalt, and granite for commercial purposes. The company conducts blasting operations twice a week without any alert system to warn residents. Quarry workers, speaking anonymously, reveal that the company engages in deep drilling and uses powerful explosives, which generate strong vibrations and pose risks to nearby structures. Despite the company’s awareness that their operations violate the law, they prioritize profit over the safety and well-being of the affected communities.The plight of the residents in these 13 communities underscores the urgent need for government intervention to address the destructive activities of the Chinese-owned quarry company. The residents deserve safety, peace, and protection from the detrimental effects of the quarry blasts, as well as compensation for the damages they have endured.