Local Sandstone Mining Companies at Lekoakoaneng laid their challenges before the Minister of Mining Keketso Sello, during his visit earlier this month.
The purpose for the Minister’s visit was to inspect mining work, progress, achievements, and challenges of local sandstone companies.
The managing director of Lekokoaneng Sandstone, Nephtaly Makoko indicated the shrinking market as their pressing survival challenge.
“There is lack of market and support coupled with expensive electricity and a high rate of cables theft, which cost us a lot of money.
“Unfortuanetely those disastrous acts are being done by our fellow Basotho,” he said.
He added, “Another challenge facing our existance is competing with illegal businesses who mine without legal licenses.”
Makoko explained that even though they are trying to fight poverty, there is a negative myth about their sandstones being a product of the rich.
“Most people still think that building with sandstones is only for rich people. The same perception has since driven our clientele down slope with local potential clients. They have resorted to building with bricks,” he siad.
On behalf of Roadside Artisans, an association of local sandstone mining companies, Matobako Hlephole indicated that they have been abandoned and shamefully threatened by the past governement
“We have been working under servere threats of apprehension for displaying our sandstone products along the road because of the Road Reserve Clause of the law, hence why I asked whether you are here to put us out of business or not. We feel lost in our own country, while we are not even troubling the government to hire us,” said Hlephole.
Hlephole indicated that all they want is support from the government and that the ministry should extend their hand by creating large scale Mining Companies to equip them with resources, that would boost their natural talent and to create jobs for Lekokoaneng residents.
When adressing their matters, Sello applauded Basotho owning mining companies for the effort they are making.
“It is the government’s desire to see Basotho flourish, hence the reason of my visit to address your challenges and map out a better way forward.
“In order for the country’s economy to flourish, it needs people to use their minds and to motivate others. These mines can only grow if they receive sufficient support from Basotho and from us as the government,” Sello said.
Sello and Lekokoaneng Artisans reached an agreement to establish an association where they will discuss their way forward and to inform him if they need further assistance.