he Western Bahr el Ghazal State parliament on Wednesday summoned two state ministers and the Raja County commissioner to answer questions about alleged illegal gold mining in Raja County’s far west.
Those summoned are the state trade minister Akol Majok Rok, local government minister Ibrahim Suru Ibrahim and Commissioner Addison Arcangelo of Raja County. The summons came after the state assembly received complaints from chiefs and intellectuals of Boro-Medina that foreigners are mining illegally in the area.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Friday, the parliamentarian representing Boro-Medina at the state assembly, Khamis Dayia Omer, said the motion was tabled before the assembly on 3 January.
“On Wednesday, there was a motion, and the assembly summoned the minister of industry and mining and the minister of local government and law enforcement and the commissioner of Raja County to explain the ongoing gold mining in Raja County,” Dayia explained. “My constituents have brought forward a complaint about insecurity and that there are foreigners from Sudan doing gold mining in Boro-Madina.”
“There are nearly 10,000 foreigners in Boro-Madina Payam currently and this has created a fear of insecurity in the county,” he added.
Dayia said that the minister of industry and mining revealed that five national companies went to Raja to carry out assessments before any mining but that they are surprised the mining is now going on.
The MP also accused the Raja County commissioner of unilaterally signing the memorandum of understanding with the gold mining companies.
“The commissioner himself is the head of the committee, and at the same time, he is the one who signed the memorandum of understanding with the companies and allocated a certain percentage to the security members in the county,” said Dayia.
Meanwhile, Agala Simon Rihan, the head of the information committee at the state assembly, said the assembly has since 2013 been aware of the illegal mining but that there was no equal representation of other political parties that could voice the matter in the house.
“This illegal mining has been ongoing since 2013, but there was no focus on it,” he said. “This process is illegal, and Raja is not benefiting from this mining.”
According to Rihan, the house did not get any convincing clarifications from the summoned ministers and the commissioner and gave them one week to return to the assembly with a clear report.
Reacting to the matter, the state’s local government minister Ibrahim Suru Ibrahim confirmed his appearance before the assembly over the matter.
“As the minister of local government, the parliamentarians wanted to know what is happening in the state, and also there is a report of ongoing gold mining in Raja,” he said. “There are so many minerals not only in Raja but all over the state and people are aware. There is no mining company which is operating in Raja but what is there is just local mining.”
On his part, Raja County Commissioner Addison Arcangelo admitted that there is gold mining in Raja but denied reports of massive mining.
“We agreed in a meeting with the state mining minister that we want to invest in minerals and gold is one of the national minerals that we have. What we have in Raga is local mining and general mining and only by the local population,” he said. “We informed the state minister of mining that we want to carry out mining and he told us that we have to do an assessment and if there is gold found in any area in Raja, the exploring should be through a memorandum of understanding with any national company. We have Wako and Kata, which are national companies and they went to Raga more than six times for assessment.”
Commissioner Arcangelo admitted the presence of Sudanese in Boro-Madina but disputed the reported number of 10,000 foreigners and gave an estimate of 2,700.
The state minister of industry and mining, Akol Majok Rok, said there are about five registered companies that are willing to carry out the mining activities in Raja, but they are still carrying out making feasibility studies.
“We have five companies that have registered in the state and are still in Raja for studies and if they got areas of their work, they will come back to us and we will send them to Juba because mining is a national government program and processes are done in Juba,” said Rok.
This is the second time the state assembly is summoning the trade minister over illegal mining. In July 2022, the house summoned the minister and he refuted allegations that foreigners were involved in illegal mining in Raja County. At the time, he claimed that only two companies registered in Juba were mining in Raja County.