The look on his face contrasts with his anger. Like many of the inhabitants of Djogo, Seydi Sow was evicted from his land in favour of Grande Côte Operations, which mines zircon in the Thiès region in central Senegal.
The old man says he was wronged in the compensation process.
“I only received 300,000 francs, even though my two fields were over two hectares in size. What use is 300,000 for me? There are people who received millions even though my fields were larger than theirs” complains Seydi Sow.
Since then, he has continued to brood over his anger despite the efforts made by Grande Côte Operations to compensate those affected.
But although it recognises the frustrations, the company plays down the situation.
“It’s human beings who are like that, who, each time they acquire something, seek to acquire even more. And this is very normal, it is the natural law of things that says so. But you who have come here, if you compare what people had in their old villages and what they have today in their new villages, you will see that there has been a clear improvement in the living and economic conditions of these people”, claims Ibrahima Diop, responsable for resettlement of impacted people at GCO.
The changes can be seen in the modern dwellings that have replaced the huts and other makeshift houses.
The inhabitants now have their own mosques and operational schools, but also a health centre and a market which they are still waiting to open in addition to the MSEs supported by GCO.
Africanews correspondent Wahany Johnson Sambou adds:
“We are here in Keur Korka Kâ in the Thiès region. And its inhabitants are among those affected by zircon mining in this region of Senegal. Until a few months ago, this village was a desert. It was built by the operator, Grande Côte Operations, who expropriated their land as compensation. They also received compensation for the damage caused. But many expect more”.
“What we want now is for them to help the affected populations with training, they must also equip the health centre so that we no longer have to go to Tivaouane or Darou Fall, which is very difficult, but also that they open the market so that people can sell their goods here”, demands Moussa Sall, one of the persons affected by zircon mining.
In the meantime, Grande Côte Operations is continuing its charm offensive towards the people to calm their anger.