Workers at Kilembe Mines Limited have laid down their tools in protest following the mysterious disappearance of one of their colleagues for close to one-and-half months.
Mr Felix Mugyema, the mine superintendent, went missing one week after a mine worker, Simon Kachayi Munduwayi, got trapped underground in April.
Munduwayi was drowned in the mine on April 8 after he was trapped as he tried to fix a broken water pump.
As investigations into the death of Munduwayi kicked off, Mugyema was sent to Kampala for official duties but has never surfaced.
The workers allege that one of their managers is responsible for Mugyema’s disappearance.
They further allege that ever since Mr Mugyema disappeared, management has never explained or briefed the workers on any steps taken to find him.
As pressure mounted at the mines, the general manager, Mr Fred Kyakonye, reportedly fled from his office on Monday when the workers stormed his office demanding for Mugyema.
However, before leaving, Mr Kyakonye called in police, which helped him escape.
The municipal mayor, Mr Godfrey Kabyanga, intervened and held a meeting with the mines staff on Tuesday, where he asked the workers to write their grievances to the chairperson of the mines board, copying it to the relevant authorities.
The meeting appointed Mr Geoffrey Muwanga, the senior underground foreman, to act as the manager until the issue is resolved.
“We have appointed Muwanga to act as the manager since Kyakonye went without assigning the duty to any one else,” Mr Kabyanga said on phone yesterday.
The workers lit a fire infront of the administration block on Monday, vowing not to put it out until the mines superintendant resurfaces. They, however, changed mind and called the strike off to allow investigations.
Before he fled, Mr Kyakonye had apparently tried to calm down the workers and explained that management is working hard to find Mr Mugyema.
Since Monday, Mr Kyakonye’s mobile telephone, known to this newspaper, has been switched off.
Recently Kasese district chairman, Lt. Col. Mawa Muhindo, apologised to the residents for the insecurity that has seen several murders and attacks in the district in April.
This was after three people were killed and two others went missing including a special hire driver.
The mines have slowly been destroyed over the years after copper production was halted in 1982.
By Enid Ninsiima, Daily Monitor