Mon | Apr 12, 2021

Open bauxite pits swallowing animals alive

Published:Monday | June 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Robert Brooks points to a section of the mined-out land where the animals disappear, in Mocho, Clarendon.

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Robert Brooks gazed into a wide open, rugged pit at Johnson Bottom in North Central Clarendon. A few decades ago, the area was a hive of mining activity. Bulldozers, backhoes and trucks were engaged to rip the ore from the earth, the aim being to get out as much of the red gold known as bauxite.

The engines of those machines have since been muted and the miners have moved into other areas but have left behind a dangerous pit which has been a death trap for animals in this area of Mocho in Clarendon.

Pearnel Charles, member of parliament for the constituency, is threatening to take the Government to court to force the reclamation of bauxite lands.

"It is a shame that the people should be suffering now as a result of a legitimate contract between the Government and a foreign company," Charles said.


Pink ribbon posturing


One resident said that the pit at Johnson Bottom has the identification number KK18. He said that the bauxite company quite often turns up to measure the area and pretend as if they will commence reclamation work, but all that has happened is the erection of pegs with pink ribbons around the pit.

"I have been advised that cattle trying to graze grass on the sides roll in those holes. I have put it in the Hansard [record of Parliament] that if a goat falls down from the edge of one of those holes, to the bottom, it is impossible for that goat to have life," Charles said.

"I have had complaints from people saying that their cows and goats have fallen and rolled to the bottom," he said.

Charles added that if a human should fall into any of the pits, "the best option is to just cover you up and bury you".

Brooks, sporting a dejected look on his face, told The Gleaner that he abandoned living in tough inner-city communities in the Corporate Area over a decade ago and headed for rural Jamaica, where he has tried his hand at activities such as agriculture and the burning of charcoal. Most recently, Brooks said he moved into Johnson Bottom, Green Park, where he purchased a Nubian nanny-goat for $7,000 with the hope of capitalising on his investment.

"Me did plan that me would have this goat and turn him into a flock, because one goat can turn into 50 goats," Brooks said.

"This is a big setback for me, and I would love to get some compensation from the bauxite company. It is not me alone, but several people in the community lose animals that fall into the hole," he added.