A Study of the Quarry Industry in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, 1970-2007


In spite of the existence of the quarry industry in Abakaliki not much has been written on its history and the contribution of the industry to the people of Abakaliki. The study intends to fill the gap. The work traced the origin of the industry to the Colonial period, pointing out when, how and where it started at a section of the juju hill at the back of the present Ebonyi State Government House. The industry assisted the colonial administrators in bridging the infrastructural gap during the period. The work also discussed the economy of Abakaliki before 1970 indicating that from time immemorial Abakaliki economy was mainly agriculturally based, though trade and traditional industries were practiced. The consequences of the industry on Abakaliki was looked at which shows its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include employment generation, execution of community development projects, educational empowerment, and execution of some State Government projects. On the other hand the disadvantages of the industry indicated, decline in agriculture, environmental degradation, destruction/dis-articulation of societal values, traditions and norms, energy crisis and health hazards. The conclusion one can draw from the activities of the industry is that much more could be done for the people by both the government and the quarry industry if both sides can encourage the welfare of Abakaliki people.




Background to the Study

Quarry is the excavation, extraction and breaking of stones into aggregates for construction purposes such as bridges, houses, roads, railways and others. Abakaliki before the coming of the quarry industry at Onuebonyi-Izzi in Abakaliki Local Government Area, Ebonyi state, earned their livelihood mainly through agriculture. About 85% 0f Abakaliki population are farmers. Very little of the agricultural production is mechanized and so the industry depends almost entirely on family labour.

Abakaliki is the capital of the present day Ebonyi State in South eastern Nigeria. The inhabitants are primarily members of the Igbo ethnic nation. It used to be parts of both Anambra and Enugu States before the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996. Abakaliki town lies at the intersection of the Enugu, Afikpo and Ogoja roads. It is a leading producer of processed rice, yam and cassava for decades. Abakaliki has an estimated population of 141, 438 according to the 2006 census.

Naturally, Abakaliki is endowed with two typical but very important stones namely shale/sedimentary and granite. These stones are predominant in Onuebonyi-Izzi, Ezzamgbo (Odomoke) and Ezillo; but the focus of the study is mainly on Onuebonyi-Izzi in Abakaliki Local Government Area. These stone types constitute construction aggregates, most of which are quarried.

When Igboland came under British Colonial rule from 1900, it was extended to Abakaliki and Afikpo by August 1902 . The British authorities, saddled with the responsibilities of providing infrastructure like offices and residential quarters for their officials resorted to forced labour and coerced the indigenous populace to provide them with lumps of stones cracked manually from the already existing surface sedimentary rock depositions in the area. These stones were used in the building of offices/residential quarters popularly known as Government Reserved Area (GRA) and in the construction of bridges which linked together different parts of the town.

As a result of this development, the Colonial authorities were able to initiate some reforms in the people’s means of livelihood. The establishment of indigenous banks in the 1930s and the consequences of World War II further empowered Nigerian businessmen to have access to credit facilities. The early 1950’s mineral exploration in Nigeria undertaken by the then Nigeria Mining Corporation revealed the presence of sedimentary rock deposits in commercial quantity in Abakaliki. During the period, the power to exploit minerals and the management of stone blasting was vested in the Nigerian Mining Corporation which granted a lease to Trade Afrik in 1956. Trade Afrik in turn gave stone blasting licenses to private owned companies like Ebenezer and Sons Limited, G.U Oguike, “Spera in Deo”, Muoneke and Sons Limited, Eze and Bros, and Pecuno Nigerian Limited. The lumps of blasted stones were conveyed in trucks from the mines at Onuebonyi–Izzi to the crushing sites located along the Old Abakaliki-Enugu Highway, for final processing and marketing. In 1961 the Eastern Nigerian Government established a quarry out-fit at the back of Juju Hill in Abakaliki for use in road construction and rehabilitation projects during the period under review.

At the end of the Nigerian Civil War in January, 1970 General Yakubu Gowon regime embarked on his post-civil war programme based on the so called rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation11. It was geared towards upgrading and repair of damaged infrastructures in the former East Central State and other war affected parts of the country. As a result an Italian Multi-National Construction Company, SEGEEN Nigeria Limited, was hired for the reconstruction of the Abakaliki-Enugu Federal Highway, while Reynold Construction Company (RCC), built the Enugu Airport, commissioned on August 1976 by the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, Major General Musa YarAdua12. About ninety five percent of quarried stones for the reconstruction and construction of the two projects were sourced from Abakaliki quarries at different locations.

The expiration of the multi-national firms contract coupled with the desperate bid to consolidate the gains of the new economic empowerment, led many private owned companies into obtaining licences to crush stones in Abakaliki with patronage from various parts of the old East Central State and, beyond At present, there are over one-hundred private owned quarry companies, and one government owned quarry company in Abakaliki and its environs producing quarried stones of different sizes and shapes.

The companies, both government and privately owned, have different degrees of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the host communities who provided a conducive atmosphere for the exploitation of the solid mineral deposits. The new economic environment ignored the socio-economic status of the host communities. Recently, observations have shown that the host communities are now reluctant to give out more of their farm lands for quarrying activities. They are already aware of the environmental implications of the quarry, and the inability by the operators to adhere strictly to the international mining standard and environmental management.

However, Abakaliki remains the melting pot of quarry products east of the Niger or in the south-east geo-political zone.

This to a large extent has enhanced the living standard of the indigenous communities and stranger elements.

Theoretical Framework

The research looks at the extent Onuebonyi-Izzi quarry can be regarded as a foreign enclave as enunciated by H. Myint in his work the Economics of The Developing Countries. The term “enclave” is derived from the Latin word “inclavatus” meaning “Shut in, locked up” and clavis meaning “key”. The term enclave is commonly used to recognize the existence of a fragment enclosed in something of an alien nature.

In this theory Myint enunciated that such foreign enclaves are incapable of transmitting a satisfactory type of economic growth to the area of activity/developing countries. He also posited that such enterprises are concerned with primary production and not with manufacturing industry. That mines and plantations fail to become “leading economic sector” in the under-developed countries because they are concerned mainly with export of agricultural goods. That the economy operate cheap labour policy which had perpetuated in turn low wages and low productivity. That indigenous labour is used as un-differentiated mass of brawn power and therefore fails to improve the skill and dexterity of the people. And this accounted for the dualism between the mining sector and the indigenous/traditional sector of the economy.

Finally, the circumstances surrounding the emergence of the quarry industry in Abakaliki (Onuebonyi-Izzi) depicts presence of an indigenous labour. And for the large quantities of shale/sedimentary and granite rock deposit in the area to have remained un-exploited in the past is as a result of poor state of internal economic organization and inelastic demand which resulted to low wages and low productivity. Therefore the failure to improve the skill and ability of the people could be explained in terms of the “enclave” model. And to what extent the Abakaliki (Onuebonyi-Izzi) quarry industry reflects the above characteristics will be taken into cognizance.

Statement of Problem

In-spite of the existence of the Quarry industry in Abakaliki not much have been written on the history and contribution of the industry to Abakaliki. This lacuna created an avenue for debate amongst those who see the industry as having made positive contributions and those who argue to the contrary. It therefore becomes imperative that both views should be critically scrutinized and evaluated with empirical data to arrive at an impartial conclusion.

Purpose of the Study

The continuous neglect of the quarry industry in Abakaliki, despite its economic importance informed the need for this study. The research will help to balance the arguments on the positive and negative contributions of the Quarry industry to the development of Abakaliki.

Significance of the Study

Knowledge gained from the study would help town planners and policy makers in determining where best to locate industries. The study should equally serve as a reference material for those interested in the quarry industry. Finally, the study will assist in the management of other quarry sites that may be established in Abakaliki in the future.

Scope of Study

The study covers the period 1970-2007. This is because 1970 marked the end of the Nigerian Civil War and the beginning of the post war reconstruction programme while the year 2007 marked the end of the second tenure of the first civilian administration of Governor Sam Egwu in Ebonyi State, and the inception of Governor Martin Elechi’s first tenure which created high demand for quarry products to accommodate the ever increasing infrastructural development in the state.

It was also in 2007 that Governor Elechi came up with a policy that relocated the industry crushing site in 2009 from the new Abakaliki-Enugu highway to the present location at Umuogharu. This created the first ever road map for the industry in the economic development of Ebonyi State.

Literature Review

In the course of this research work, a review of available works in the area of study was undertaken. However, a few recorded researchers have been carried out on Abakaliki but nearly none mentioned the origin, development, growth and consequences of the quarry industry on Abakaliki.

A.N. Nwibo and E.A. Ugwuja et al, blazed a trail on quarry in Abakaliki in their research “Pulmonary problem among quarry workers of stone crushing industrial site at Umuogharu, Ebonyi State” in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2012. The work though useful did not provide the back ground to the industry which would have aided to an understanding of the remote and immediate causes of the research.

Akeredolu Ake, “Private Foreign Investment, Foundations of African Economy”. A study of investment and Growth in Nigeria, 1966. The work however focuses on the failure of British authorities in 1927 to take advantage of huge lime stone, shale/sedimentary and granite deposits in Nkalagu and Abakaliki to establish a cement and quarry company. The proposal was killed in the interest of Portland cement in Britain. The reports of Agu and Akinyemi “solid mineral in Nigeria” in Business Day Tuesday, April 4, 2004. Revealed the presence of shale/sedimentary and granite rock deposits that are yet to be fully exploited in a commercial quantity in Ebonyi, Benue, Abia and Taraba States. This gives an insight to the presence of the above stated solid minerals in some parts of the country but failed to take particular cognizance of the quarry in (Onu-Ebonyi Izzi) Abakaliki where exploitation in commercial quantity started as far back as 1970.

The work of R.O. Ekundare, An Economic History of Nigeria 1860-1960 , and P.E. Hair Enugu: An Industrial and Urban Community in Eastern Nigeria. 1914-1953”, in the proceedings of 2nd Annual Conference of the West African Institute of Social an Economic Research., harped extensively on the economic benefits of the discovery of coal as a solid mineral in Enugu. According to them, the industry had general positive spread effects on the colonial economy. It offered employment to thousands of Nigerians every month, albeit on a very poor wages and working conditions. The work was totally silent on Abakaliki Quarry as records from National Archives Enugu indicated that the British Colonial authorities sourced large quantity of quarry products from Abakaliki juju hill shale/sedimentary and granite open excavation site. The quarry products were used for casting concrete barriers on rail lines, bridges and construction of underground run-ways for the evacuation of coal, and to some extent provided employment opportunities for the people during the period under focus.

What is more, a publication, “Ebonyi State Investment Potentials” by the Ebonyi State Ministry of Commerce Industry and Technology Abakaliki 2005, “captured much of the Agricultural potentials of the state and only mentioned the quarry industry in a passing statement. The report of Oscar Onwuemenyi “Federal Government insists on safer methods for Quarry Industry” in This Day Business by the Honourable Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Musa Sada was revealing. The report only highlighted the desire on the part of the Federal Government to introduce a tougher legislation for the industry. He limited the activities of the ministry on the quarry industries within the federal capital territory, without the inclusion of Abakaliki in Ebonyi State where the state House of Assembly have already put in place legislation on the activities of the quarry industries and in the environmental management.

Three Ebonyi State based newspapers, Ebonyi Patriot of April 12 2007 , Ebonyi Voice of June 20, 2009 and The Citizens Advocate of October 17, 2009 in their various editorial columns titled, “The End of an Era marks the beginning of a new Era”, “Quarry as a business and “The Benefits of Quarry” highlighted various aspects of activities in the industry. The newspapers pointed out the federal and state government initiatives in the Quarry industry in Abakaliki. All the newspapers mentioned have been useful to the study.

Ichie P.C Okonkwo’s presentation on “Environmental issues in Quarrying and Surface Mining Operations: Definitions and Concept Clarification in the”. National Workshop on Construction, Operations, Safety and Environmental Management, 2000 in the ECOWAS Secretariat Asokoro-Abuja was particular on environmental impacts of quarry. He noted that quarry operations disturb the following major aspects of the environmental namely: Landscape, soil, surface water and air. A situation of not being able to eat the cake and still have it exit between man and his environment. In recognition of the fact that the environment and health related issues facing our mines/quarries today pose significant challenges to its future development and growth, the need to set standards in the degree of disturbance to the environment has become imperative.

Apart from the environmental threat and hazards which result from quarry activities, managers of the enterprise also failed consider to take cognizance of soil degradation on the population. For example an attempt at relocation of the original inhabitants of Onuebonyi-Izzi from their ancestral homes which triggered massive population pressure on the existing land space and resulted in communal border clashes among the border communities of Ebonyi and Cross-River States. It further led to the need to adjust the boundary between the two states.

Sources and Methods

The work makes use of conventional way of writing history by using both primary and secondary sources which are juxtaposed, and the facts analyzed in both thematic and chronological order.

Primary sources here, include, Archival materials obtained from the National Archives Enugu (NAE), Oral sources derived from interviews obtained from various informed and knowledgeable individuals. The Secondary sources include published and unpublished works like books, journals, workshops, government publications, magazines, newspapers, which centre on quarry industry in Abakaliki.

The study is organized under five chapters. The first chapter is the Introduction, which provides the back ground to the study. Chapter two examines the Economy of Abakaliki before 1970. Chapter three focuses on the Origin of the industry. Chapter four looks at the Consequences of the industry on Abakaliki. Chapter Five is the Summary and Conclusion.




The economy of Abakaliki during the period under view is rural, mostly agriculturally with little or no industrial base. Trading activities both internal and external were wide spread. Farming formed the bedrock of the people’s economic activity. Hunting and fishing also occupied important position in the economy of the people.

This was aptly captured by Late Adiele Afigbo when he succinctly opined that among the Igbo people, their economic system and its history can be studied under three major heads, agriculture, trade and manufacture. Each of these three main provinces of economic activity played an important part in the survival of the Igbo as a group and in determining the character and quality of their culture, even of their religion and cosmology


During the period under focus, farming formed the basis of Abakaliki traditional economy. Farming was based on shifting cultivation and the people often covered collectively, large acres of land. Farming during the period can be categorized into two, namely, big time farming and peasant farming. For instance, in Izzi big time farmers were the two powerful chiefs such as Idika Igboji and Nwiboko Nwobodo. Others were subsistence farmers whose successes in farming were tied to the whims and caprices of the two powerful chiefs. Therefore there was a nexus between politics, farming and the economy. Those subjects within the domain of these chiefs were responsible for clearing the land, cultivation, harvesting and evacuation of farm produce to the colonial markets like Nkwuda, Ndu-ugo and Iboko markets. The Chiefs on the other hand gave protection to their loyal subjects. The yams produced were bought by traders along the river-rine and coastal areas like Eyim Ifuma, Ebonyi river, Cross River, Itu river, Afikpo, Calabar and Aro.

During the 1960’s, other prominent chiefs emerged such as Chief Akpaka, Chief Ezenyi, Nwabokpo, Oshibu Nwazunku and others who came into lime-light. The system of farming method continued to be shifting or rotational in-spite of the increase in population. The same pattern of farming is still in vogue today. The crops cultivated were yams (ji), water yam (mbala), cocoyam (nkashi), cassava (ogodo, akpu), pepper (igbakpo, uza), and other vegetable crops are melon, the white and yellow species called respectively (ashi) and (akpu eli). Other important domestic crops include fluted pumpkin (ugboma), okro (okwuoro). Other crops cultivated were palm trees (nfu) which produces palm oil (manu) and palm kernel (aku) groundnut (ashiboko) is a growing domestic cash-crop. There was no mechanized farming and farm implements used in farming like cutlass, hoe et cetera were generally rudimentary. These tools were made by local blacksmiths and wood carvers.

The farming season in Abakaliki started between the months of November and December for the early planters while the late planters/farmers start between April and May. Agriculture in Igbo land is highly ritualized. In Abakaliki, farmers perform yearly sacrifices to the ancestors and other gods for the purpose of achieving bumper harvest. Such gods include (enyim ji) and (oke mini). In addition individual farmers also owned personal gods which they propitiated for good and rich harvest.

At the commencement of each planting season clearing of the bush and preparation of yam mounds in the designated farmlands were carried out with cutlasses and hoes by the families of the peasant farmers. In addition, individuals employed age grades and volunteer labour provided by friends and neighbours. At times people were forced to work for the 26 richer farmers like Chief Nwiboko Nwobodo. Planting by farmers do not start immediately until the arrival of sustained rainfall from the months of March and April. Although, some farmers who planted early in the river-rine areas did so because of the nature of the environment which was often water-logged in the rainy season. Since fertilizer was unknown then, the adoption of rotational farming helped the land to regain its fertility. At the end of the harvest, surplus yams and other crop items were sold to purchase other needs of the families and the very rich yam farmers took yam tittles such as jioke, ima-inya et cetera.

Before the month of June farms were weeded and after a period of three weeks the crops were re-earthened to increase the nutrient level or (ikpa obo). From August to September the second weeding was carried out. Between December and January harvesting of farm crops commenced. At this stage yam barns had been prepared in readiness in various homes or residences.

Indeed, in Abakaliki the ability to own a large farm and be able to make several heaps of yam mounds during heaps of yam mounds contest was regarded as pre-condition for assessing a young man’s suitability for marriage. Onwuka Njoku alluded to that fact when he asserted that “among the Igbo, farming was a passion and a universal pursuit. But it is the Ezza of Abakaliki who had the upper hand in farming pursuit, and is regarded as the greatest yam farmers. He also noted that early Colonial officials were impressed by their immense ability in farming and showed surprise at their efficient application of natural manure made from leaves, crops remains, animal dung and even human excreta in order to increases crop yield.

However, the major crops were wild palm trees which produce palm oil (manu) followed by groundnut (ashiboko). Groundnut planting was by manual labour, which started with the making of beds and ridges. Actual planting commenced between the months of May and June every year. The duration for the harvest of groundnuts was about three months. Groundnuts when harvested were usually stored in baskets to be sold and eaten by the farmers and others.

The processing of the oil palm nuts was by local method in which the palm nuts were left to ferment before boiling. After boiling the palm nuts are then pounded in a local mortar after which the oil was pressed out from the pounded pulp. The second method was to put the boiled fruits in a hollowed tree-trunk or similar stone formation near a river where the palm fruits were marched into a consistency with legs. After all these, the oil is extracted and boiled again and the good quality oil is skimmed from the surface. The byproduct from the palm oil known as palm kernel were cracked manually using stone implements. Finally, the palm nuts, palm oil and groundnuts were taken to the nearby and distant markets for sell. The only means of transporting these cash crops were by head of portage using local baskets on foot through bush paths. Only the local chiefs owned bicycles.

Animal Husbandry

Domestic animals such as fowl, goats, sheep, native cows, etcetra were kept as sources of protein and economic resources by Abakaliki people from time immemorial. Domestic livestock industry was one of the pillars on which the rural economy has been built and sustained for millennia. The Abakaliki people are noted for such domestic animals as cows (efi), goat (ewu), sheep (aturu), fowls (oku), dogs (nkuta), pigs (ezhi), cats (busu) and other animals. Most people bred some of these animals in commercial quantities, especially cows, goats, sheep, fowls and dogs. But traditionally, these domestic animals are kept for sacrifices during local ceremonies. Fowls, goats and cows were commonly used for festivities and sacrifice to family deities their ancestors, as well as the lesser gods.

Traditional Industries

Hunting (Nta)

Hunting was both an occupation and a hobby to the Abakaliki people. During the pre-colonial period it was an all-male affair. Njoku Onwuka rightly observed that hunting was pursued on part-time basis and as an adjunct to farming38. Those who had hunting as full-time occupation went out in the day and night in search of big and small games. Unskilled hunters went out during the day for hunting.

Another aspect of hunting was the group or community hunting (nta-igwe) such an occasion of general hunting involved all interested males in the society. Such hunting took place during the dry season, when bushes were burnt. People both experienced and inexperienced, on seeing the smoke, would immediately rush to go and hunt having confirmed that it was the long awaited bush that was burning. This type of hunting takes place mostly during the day. Generally, the Abakaliki people used dane-guns, cutlasses and arrows, catapult, and traps as hunting tools.

Hunting commanded a lot of respect in the society because it was a sustaining occupation. People would become rich and famous through hunting. A lot of titles accrued from good hunting. One could become head cutter (Ogbu-Isi) when one was able to kill a leopard, lion or crocodile. Hunting was indeed an occupation for warriors. Good hunters were regarded as reliable assets for defence against external aggression.


Fishing is an important aspect of traditional industry and was equally an economically sustaining occupation among the Abakaliki people, especially among those who live along the river-rine areas like the Ebonyi River, Onuenyim and among the Ikwo and Izzi in particular. This corroborates Onwuka Njoku’s view about fishing when he alluded to the fact that fishing was a pursuit determined solely by the environment being limited to river-rine communities.

Fishing was normally done during both dry and rainy seasons. But mass fishing was generally carried out during the dry season when the volume of streams and ponds was low. Fishing, equally took place in rivers (Enyim), stream (ngele), and ponds (Okpuru). Fishing tools include net (ugbu) of different sizes, hooks (ikeke) of various sizes and basket-like materials made of broom sticks (aga). Group fishing involved both males and females. In this case, males commonly use matchets and bags to put their catches while females use baskets with opening at both ends (ebuba). In most cases, group fishing was done for one man who might have claimed the ownership of particular water by virtue of his position in the society. Typical examples are Chiefs Idike, Igboji and Nwiboko Nwobodo. At the end of this type of fishing, participants were rewarded according to their effort, while the owner of the pond took the lion’s share of the harvest. Another type of group fishing was the one often carried out in community waters and individuals went home with their catches at the end of the day.


The Abakaliki people also engaged in other aspects of local industries such as blacksmithing and carving. It is a gift of nature ordained by the gods of the land. Blacksmithing provided income for the operators, instruments of war and farming. The blacksmiths produced spears (arua), bow and arrows (uta), cutlasses (mma)/ogbeduru), hoe (oguu) and diggers (ikworo) which the farmers and hunters use for their various activities. Those engaged in pottery use the basic raw materials like clay, to produce earthen wares such as pots (ite), plates (ochii), etc. These products served as cooking utensils as well as water storage facilities. Smaller pots of different forms and sizes were used for religious purposes. In this way, the pottery industry helped to meet the socio-economic and religious needs of the people. They also served as trading commodities. They formed acceptable medium of exchange when barter was largely in practice. Presently, the industry is declining because of the importation of metal and plastic wares.


Another significant feature of the economy of Abakaliki people was trade. Before the inception of colonial rule trade by barter was in vogue. Barter was an exchange in which goods were exchanged for goods. People trekked from far and near to trade and exchange goods and services. People from Cross-River and neighbouring towns came to Abakaliki to trade on such commodities as fish, salt, yam et cetera. Even though almost everybody tended to be self-sufficient by attempting to engage in almost everything, but certainly the need for trade was indispensable.

There were markets like Okwo in Ngbo, Eke Imoha in Ezza and in Izzi Iboko, Nwakpu, Nkwagu, Kpiri-Kpiri, Nkaleke, and Nwofe. Goods were displayed openly for buyers and sellers to carry out their transactions. Manufactured goods were marginal in the trade. Commodities found in the markets include livestock such as fowls, goats, sheep, cats, dogs, etc. agricultural goods included yams (ji), cocoyam of different varieties like (uduga) and (nkashi), plantain and banana (jikpa), vegetables (ekwo); and palm produce (manu), basket (nkata) etc, all from the palm. However, locally manufactured goods like cloths (anamu) hoes (ogu), cooking utensils (oba, ite, eku, nja) etc were also sold.

Long distance trade, on the other hand provided those articles most people or communities could not afford locally. Gunpowder (nshiegbe), guns (egbe), cannons (okpolali) and other industrial goods. The people from Uburu, Afikpo traveled through canoe, foot paths to Izzi to sell commodities like local dry gin (kaikai), and equally gunpowder (nshi-egbe). Cloths like okra-ekpe for highly placed people in the society were procured from the Aro, Abam and Uburu traders in exchange for yams, slaves and other commodities. This further goes to explain why there were Aro settlements in various parts of Abakaliki during the period. The traditional Eke Imoha was an emporium for horses for ceremonial rites.

Abakaliki people also went to far markets in the Cross-River areas. Men and women were involved in the trade. Its special organization is interesting, people set out in groups for the market about two days to the actual market day. Market squares were used for some other important purposes other than trading. They served other social functions such as places where rich men taking titles such as horse-killing (igbu-inya). It also served as a place where distant relations met to relay messages. There was free flow of information into the entrance and exit of the market. There were many buyers and sellers and the sellers aimed at maximizing profits. However, no form of monopoly existed.

The value of goods was measured against the background of chosen goods. Salt (unu) was first chosen and used for exchange with any other goods that represented the value of such goods. Later, (okpoga-Igbo) manilla was used. (Okpoga Igbo) Manila bars continued to be used as standard for exchange, durable and easy to count. The use of this medium of exchange persisted till the introduction of cowrie shells (Ikiribi). To facilitate trade, the British introduced trade currencies such as penny-three pence (toro), six pence (shishi), shilling (shiru), and pounds (pang) as a medium of exchange soon after the subjugation of the people. Many Abakaliki people were not ready to give up the use of (okpoga-Igbo) as a medium of exchange or as a measure of their wealth. Trade was, indeed, an essential aspect of the economic system of the Abakaliki people.

With the coming of the Colonial government, and its mercantilist economic policy, efforts were geared towards industrializing the economy by killing or at best stunting the existing traditional industries. The net effect was that Abakaliki people, like other parts of Nigeria, gradually started loosing the zeal to produce handicraft items and certain traditional farming practices. Traditional Expertise would have provided a launch pad for the traditional industry growth and development in Abakaliki. During this period, there was no quarry, the nearest was to use stone tripod for fire making, as grinding stones, and to sharpen knives which require little or no technology. But all these Indigenous habits changed with the coming of the white man. Initially, the conquest of Abakaliki in 1902, led to quarry activities based on forced labour strategy in building and construction of bridges but not for commercial purposes.

Later, the new order ushered in new economic, political and social policies. The era witnessed the construction of modern infrastructure for new Colonial government to take off. The un-tapped shale/sedimentary and granite rock deposits in Abakaliki and its environs started attracting the attention of government and private investors alike, till even after Nigeria’s independence on October 1, 1960.





Prior to the establishment of British colonial administration in Nigeria, there were numerous oppositions in Igboland including Abakaliki against the British. However, by 1902, the British had effectively established itself in Izzi, Ikwo and Ezza. They sent military expeditions against these indigenous groups who valiantly resisted the invaders. But by 1905, the British had effectively occupied the area. Abakaliki people were beaten in various military skirmishes which lasted from 25th March to 16th May 1902. They were greatly handicapped by the fact that their territory is open savannah land which exposed them unduly to the devastating superior fire of British machine guns.

Worse still the Abakaliki people were lightly armed mainly with matchets, their major traditional weapon which could do harm only at close quarters. But this opportunity they never had. Still it took days to break their resistance. But in the end, “the British imposed a new political, economic and moral regime on the people”.

Before this period, Abakaliki people were predominantly farmers. Then what later became quarry stones served traditional and domestic purposes, such as tripods for kitchen fire, in sharpening knives and processing palm oil and cracking palm kernel. Eventually the British colonial administration changed the old order and in its attempt to develop the area and establish some presence in the area, found new uses for the quarry stones.

In 1904, the British established its district headquarters in Abakaliki in the present location of Ebonyi State capital. They had infrastructural challenges by way of lack of offices and residential quarters for their administrators. They therefore resorted to forced labour and coerced the indigenous populace to provide them with lumps of stones cracked manually from the existing surface sedimentary rock deposit at Juju Hill at the back of the present Ebonyi State Government house (see picture below). The stones aggregated were used to build offices and residential quarters popularly known as Government Reserved Area (GRA) and for the construction of bridges, culverts and roads which linked different parts of the town. Above all, it will be pertinent to note that quarrying activities at this stage were not for commercial purposes.

Solid mineral exploration in Nigeria began when the Mineral Survey of the Southern and Northern protectorates of Nigeria were established in 1903 and 1904 respectively by the British Colonial Administration. The surveys done were published in a series of pamphlets and reports between 1906 and 1914. As a result of positive response from the survey and attendant interest in mining activities, government decided to streamline and monitor activities at all stages of prospecting and mining of solid minerals, including quarry as well as protect the interest of the country. An Inspector of mines was first appointed in 1908. The mineral surveys of Northern and Southern Nigeria were disbanded in 1909 and 1913 respectively. In 1914 the Southern and Northern protectorates were amalgamated. In 1919, the Geological Survey of Nigeria came into existence and the same year the Mines inspectorate was established at Naraguta near Jos. The department of mines became the sole government agency for the execution of all laws relating to mineral prospecting and mining in Nigeria. The Mineral Ordinance of 1946 provided the legal basis for the development of solid mineral exploitation in Nigeria.

Over the years, the development and mining of a particular mineral necessitated the enactment of special regulations or Acts to govern the exploration, marketing and utilization of such minerals. In the quarry industry there were as follows: the Explosives Act of 1964, the Quarries Act of 1969 and Allied Regulations Cap. 385 LFN 1990, Allied Regulations of 1969 cap. 117 LFN 1990 and Nigerian Mining Corporation Act of 1972, Cap. 317 LFN. 1990.

The above mentioned Regulations and Acts were the launch pad to the development of Abakaliki quarry industry. In the late 1950s, and early 1960s quarry activities were more of a government business than private concern. After Nigeria Independence in October 1, 1960, more efforts were geared towards strengthening the Public Works Department (PWD) in the bid to improve road infrastructure in Nigeria. In Abakaliki, the industry was located at the back of Juju hill because of the presence of shale/sedimentary rock deposit in the area. The quarry products assisted the government in the areas of road construction and rehabilitation.

The first indigenous private concern in Abakaliki that ventured into quarry was Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited which acquired mining lease for quarry from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Power. And to create conducive mining environment, the company entered into a memorandum of understanding (mou) with the host community. However, patronage was low, companies like G.U Oguike, PECUNO and Spera ‘in’ Deo which acquired quarry licences from Trade Afrik experienced low turnover in the industry due to low private investment culture in properties and construction in Abakaliki as at the period. It was only few settlers in Abakaliki from the former Eastern Region who were contractors during the British colonial Administration that patronized the industry at the early stage.

The Nigerian Civil War that lasted between 1967 and 1970 halted the development of the industry. The only activity in the industry during the period was the reconstruction of Ezillo and Amechi Idodo bridges by the Engineering Corps of the Nigerian army to aid the infantry brigades to capture Abakaliki. These bridges were blown-up by the Biafrans which halted the advance of Nigerian troops into the Abakaliki axis. At the end of the Civil War, the Indigenization Decree in the 1970s, forced many foreign entrepreneurs to leave Nigeria. The remaining small mining operations focused their attention on mining non-metallic minerals for local industries. The federal government intervened to save the mining industry with the first articulated policy statement on solid minerals in 1971. The main focus or approach was to secure the development, conservation and the utilization of the mineral resources in Nigerian for national interest with emphasis on active participation of public and private sectors in mining activities. This fiat led to the expansion of the Geological Survey and the Mines Department, which resulted in the establishment of the Nigerian Mining Corporation in 1972. The various policies on solid minerals were more on paper, than in practice. Successive regimes after General Yakubu Gowon paid either lip services or were not interested in the industry until 1999 .

Growth of the Quarry Industry in Abakaliki

The growth of the quarry industry in Abakaliki was launched by the activities of the then East Central State after the Nigerian Civil war in 1970. General Gowon in a nationwide radio and television broadcast on October 1, 1970 marking the country’s tenth independence anniversary announced that the military had set in motion a nine-point programme which must be completed before returning the country to civilian rule. The programme covered the re-organization of the armed forces, implementation of the National Development Plan and the repair of the damage and neglect caused by the war, eradication of corruption in national life, settlement of the question of creation of more states, the preparation and the adoption of a new constitution, the introduction of a new revenue allocation formula, conducting a national population census, the organization of genuinely national political parties, and the organization of elections and installation of popularly elected governments in the states and in the centre.

But immediate and paramount in the above stated programme, is the implementation of the damage and neglect caused by the war. There were plans to revive the industrial sector which suffered terrible set-back as a result of the civil war. Construction sector grew rapidly during the period following the pronouncement as a result of the expansion of infrastructure funded by increasing oil revenue. Road is the most important means of transportation in-land. During the 1970s the road network was extended and improved. Much of the existing earth surfaced systems were paved and single-lane bituminous roads were expanded to two lanes. Even at that, progress was sometimes patchy as inflation and variations in revenue occasionally led to projects being scaled down or postponed.

The combination of the issues mentioned above propelled the growth of the quarry industry in Abakaliki despite the fact that most of the equipment used by the few public and private quarry out-fits were either vandalized or destroyed during the Civil War. Apart from reconstructing government buildings and other establishments, private buildings also needed to be rebuilt. Therefore, the availability of raw-materials, labour and ready markets assisted the growth of the industry in view of the initial set-back. Trade Afrik, GU. Oguike, Pecunno and Ebenezer Company Nigeria Limited all businessmen from the former Eastern Nigeria lacked the financial capability to get back into business coupled with the fact that most of their assets were in Biafran currency which was frozen by the Nigerian authorities. The Indigenization Decree of 1971 was a challenge as it was not in favour of the Easterners who resorted to the formation of social clubs, prominent among them was the People’s Club of Nigeria which gave them financial leverage to get back to business.

Furthermore, the Federal military Government in 1971 awarded a road contract to an Italian firm SEGEEN Nigeria Limited to construct a fresh highway from Enugu to Abakaliki and also another contract was to build the Enugu Airport presently known as Sir Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu to Reynolds Construction Company Limited (RCC). These contracts were completed and commissioned in 1976 and 1980 respectively by Major General Musa Shehu, Yar’ Adua the then Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters under General Obasanjo’s military regime and the first Executive Civilian President Alhaji Shehu, Aliyu Shagari. These two major federal government contracts helped much in the growth of the industry because virtually all the quarry products of various sizes such as half inch, three quarter, one inch and others were sourced from Abakaliki quarry. In the light of the above stated facts, the growth in the industry in Abakaliki can be divided into two main phases namely; 1970 to 1998 and 1999 to 2007.

During the first phase that is 1970 – 1998, the growth indicators such as mechanization and availability of space for expansion in the industry were low. Even though there were regulations, the industry lacked enforcement machinery and it affected its growth. It was SEEGEN and Reynold construction Nigeria Limited (RCC) that featured prominently because of the strategic nature of the two contracts awarded to them and the time frame required for the completion of the contracts. Quarry activities by the two companies were to a large extent mechanized because of the application of the following, approach to quarry activities like; high technology to stone blasting, the use of heavy duty trucks, earth moving machines and the use of safety devices which appeared though inadequate. There were also skilled and unskilled labours.

Furthermore, during the first phase 1970 – 1998, a total of about forty (40) workers were employed by the four indigenous quarry out-fits of which about thirty six (36) workers were unskilled and casual workers while about four (4) were skilled or were employed full time. On the other hand, the expatriate quarry employed about five hundred and thirty five (535) workers out of which three hundred (300) were skilled workers and were employed full time while two hundred and thirty five (235) were casual workers. The drivers, technicians, clerks were the skilled workers and were paid about (N4.00) four naira every two weeks. The unskilled groups were workers that were deployed to perform some tasks that did not require any level of training and were paid about (10 kobo) ten kobo daily. The terms of employment of skilled workers fell within the duration of the contract, while that of unskilled workers were casual. Treatment of labour was typical of multi-national firms who totally believe in exploitation in all aspects of their activities. However, both skilled and unskilled workers were comfortable with the whole approach because they paid better then the indigenous quarry owners, there were no trade union activities.

The indigenous quarry companies were G.U Oguike, PECUNO, Ebenezer and Spera ‘in’ Deo Nigeria Limited. These companies used pre-war equipment. The cambered system of stone blasting was still in use during the period while the pre-war vehicles and machineries sometimes broke down during operation on account of age and poor maintenance culture. The indigenous quarry chief executives could decide to close the company for days to attend traditional ceremonies, workers were paid (10 kobo) ten kobo daily and can only pay the workers on the days they were physically present. The wages paid by the expatriates and indigenous companies were not static, wages continued to increase in line with the inflationary trend in the economy. The amount paid by the two categories of quarry companies was a conservative estimate. It will be very pertinent to note that federal, state, local government and the host communities never charged fees per truck leaving the crushing site during the first phase. The host communities were only committed to the initial memorandum of understanding (mou) between them and the lease holder Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited which was not proactive enough to initiate rapid community development.

The major highlights of the initial memorandum of understanding (mou) are as follows, that Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited should carry out their mining business in Onuebonyi-Izzi within one kilometer square coverage; that the company should assist the host community in the socio-economic development of the area, this automatically brings about the community development agreement with emphasis on social responsibility; that the lease holder Trade Afrik should be responsible for tackling environmental challenges in the area.

The indigenous companies with four crushers produced an average of 8 trips per day which is about 80 tons; while the two mega crushers by the two expatriate companies produced 40trips which is about 400 tons per day. On the other hand the two expatriate firms never produced to sell but produced for the purpose of executing the Abakaliki-Enugu highway and the Enugu airport contracts; while the four indigenous companies produced to sell at the rate of (N10.00) ten naira per trip in 1976. In all, both the expatriate and indigenous quarry industries produced on estimate about 115,200 tons and 32040 tons of quarry products yearly respectively.

Below are two tables and two graphs representing growth frequencies in both expatriate and indigenous companies using growth indicators in the Abakaliki quarry during the period under focus, such as extent of mechanization, employment (permanent or casual), labor relations, wages and quantum of production on yearly basis. All these are represented in figures 6,7,8 and 9.

Years under review Tons monthly Tons yearly
1970 – 1972 50 14400
1972 – 1974 60 17280
1974 – 1976 60 17280
1976 – 1978 50 14400
1976 – 1980 50 14400
1980 – 1982 60 17580
1984 – 1984 55 17280
1984 – 1986 70 20160
1986 – 1988 60 20160
1988 – 1990 65 18720
1990 – 1992 70 20160
1992 – 1994 70 20160
1994 – 1996 65 18720
1996 – 1998 60 17280

Figure 5: Indigenous Quarry Growth Table


Years under review Tons monthly Tons yearly
1970 – 1972 380 109440
1972 – 1974 395 113760
1974 – 1976 380 109440
1976 – 1978 390 112320
1976 – 1980 385 82080
1980 – 1982 395 113760
1984 – 1984 400 115,200
1984 – 1986 200 57600
1986 – 1988 150 43200
1988 – 1990 100 43200
1990 – 1992 100 28,800
1992 – 1994 50 14,400
1994 – 1996 30 5,760
1996 – 1998 10 2,880

Figure 7: Expatriate Quarry Growth Table

From the graph it is observed that the major factor responsible for growth during the first phase of the industry was the road and the airport contracts awarded in 1974 and 1975 respectively. Production peaked between 1982 and 1984 from 113,760 to115,200 tons per year. The indigenous quarry owners did not contribute much to the growth of the industry as a result of the already highlighted challenges surrounding their activities. After the completion of the two contracts, the growth in the industry started declining. Prominent among the factors responsible for the decline was unemployment.

At this stage of the industry both state, local government and even the host community did not charge any toll fees per truck leaving the quarry site. It was only the Trade Afrik Nigeria limited that charged twenty kobo as from 1973 when naira and kobo were introduced. The amount mentioned above was subject to review in line with the inflationary trend of the period. There was little or no social responsibility because the memorandum of understanding (MOU) was not far reaching enough to touch the life of the ordinary man in the host communities. The private quarry owners did not do well in terms of employment generation because of their financial challenges. The few acres of land they occupied along Abakaliki-Enugu highway did not encourage growth and expansion in the industry.

During the second phase of the industry in Abakaliki, the growth indicators were high. The indigenous quarry owners such as Ebenezer, G.U Oguike and others at this stage had overcome most of the challenges that affected growth in the industry during the first phase such as finance, mechanization, space, local, state and federal government involvement. It is of interest to note that before the second phase of the industry the multi-national companies had completed their two major contracts and Ebonyi State was created 1996. The first military government of the state under Navy Captain Feghabor did not do much in the area of infrastructural development. During the period, more efforts were channeled towards refurbishing the existing infrastructure. The swearing in of Governor Sam Egwu on 29th May 1999 as the first Executive Civilian Governor of Ebonyi State marked a turning point in the history of the state. It ushered in the beginning of high level of infrastructural development. This led to rapid a boom in the industry with as many as one hundred and twenty quarry owners and stone crushers (120) between 1999-2007. This development led to major increase in quarry products during the period.

From 1999 – 2007 one hundred and twenty (120) indigenous quarry owners employed one thousand, one hundred and five (1105) workers out of which about one thousand and five (1005) were skilled workers and were employed full time; while one hundred (100) were unskilled workers and were casual workers. Source: A.N. Nuribo and E.I. Ugwuju, et al, “Pulmonary problems among Quarry workers of stone crushing industries site at Umuogharu, Ebonyi State, Nigeria”. Again during the second phase of the industry a more proactive memorandum of understanding (mou) cam into effect, the highlights were as follows: that the quarry firms should extend their mining activities three square kilometers instead of one square kilometer in Onuebonyi-Izzi. This led to an increase in the number of stone crushing out-fits from 4 to 120 which in turn resulted to an increase in production. This also led to the relocation of the stone crushing site located along Abakaliki-Enugu highway in 2007 by the Governor Chief Martin Elechi to Umuogharu in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State which is spacious enough for better performance and control.

The memorandum of understanding equally reflected a community development agreement with specific emphasis on social responsibility in the area of education, sinking of boreholes to stem the tide of guinea-worm scourge and construction of access roads linking the host communities. Land reclamation process after quarry was equally included. On other major aspects of the highlights was the introduction of toll-charges by the host communities of the mining and stone crushing sites which levered community development in these communities. In addition trade union activities in 1999 emerged in the industry championed by a section of skilled workers known as Stone Crushing Machine Operators Association of Nigerian (SCMOAN) agitating for an enhanced service condition because of increase in production. Thus, certain level of collective bargaining usually takes place whenever issues that have to do with their conditions of service arose.

Below is a table and a graph showing yearly growth assessment in Abakaliki quarry 1999-2007, using 120 quarry crushers and growth indicators as presented in figures 10 and 11. It also shows a gradual increase in frequencies in tons of quarry products during the second phase, 1999-2007.

Years Under Review Tons monthly Tons Yearly
1999 – 2000 240 69,120
2000 – 2001 360 103,680
2001 – 2002 480 138,240
2002 – 2003 600 207,360
2004 – 2005 720 207,360
2005 – 2006 960 276,480
2006 – 2007 1200 345,600

Figure 9: Second phase quarry growth table 1999 – 2007

During the second phase of the industry there was marked growth which peaked in 2007 to about 345,600 tons annually, and continued to grow over the years. Generally the period was characterized by the following: yearly increase in the number of quarry owners, financial empowerment from social clubs and banks, government involvement, improved mechanization, large expanse of land which encouraged expansion and lastly the industry became a full-time business and not as a contract as experienced during the first phase 1970- 1998; during the first phase it was the expatriate firms that employed greater number of workers, most of them were on contract basis with their employment tied to the duration of the road construction contract which gave rise to spiral effects such as unemployment at the end of the contract.

In addition, the economic summit organized during first tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 1999 brought solid mineral including quarry to lime light. Also, the 1999 constitution of Federal republic of Nigeria placed solid mineral on exclusive list. This led to the enactment of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act No. 34 of 1999 which was reenacted in 2007 as Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007 for the purposes of regulating all aspects of the exploration and exploitation of solid minerals in Nigeria, and for other related purposes. Therefore, all lands on which minerals have been found in Commercial quantities shall from the commencement of the Act be acquired by the government of the federation in accordance with the provisions of the Land Use Act. And no person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert, impound for the purposes of mining except as provided in the Act.

To further buttress the facts above, the Federal Government vested on the Minister a lot of powers under the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act No 34 of 1999 was re-enacted in 2007. And for the purposes of carrying out the functions of the Ministry under the Act he is to establish, a mines inspectorate department, a mines environmental compliance department, and such other departments as he may consider expedient for the proper administration of this Act. Inspectors, officers and other employees as may be considered necessary for carrying out the objectives of the Act shall be appointed into the departments and agencies established pursuant to subsection (1) of the Act. Also, the powers and duties of the inspectors, officers, or other employees appointed shall be those assigned to them respectively under the Act, its regulations and activities shall be in accordance with the Provisions of the Public Service Rules in Force.

The functions of the mines inspectorate department are as follows: exercise general supervision over all reconnaissance, exploration and mining operations to ensure their compliance with establishing Act; supervise and enforce compliance by mineral title holders with all mine health and safety regulations prescribed under the Act and any other law in force; prepare and render records, report and returns as required by the Minister or as prescribed by regulations; take custody of mineral resources required by any court to be forfeited to the Government; with the prior approval of the Minister, dispose of any mineral resources forfeited to the Government; carrying out investigations and inspections necessary to ensure that all conditions relating to mineral titles and the requirements of this Act are complied with; discharge such other duties as may be assigned from time to time, by the Minister; and review and recommend to the minister, programmes for controlling mining operations.

On the other hand, the mines environmental compliance department has the following functions to perform, review all plans, studies and reports required to be prepared by holders of mineral title in respect of their environmental obligations under the establishing Act; monitor and enforce compliance by holders of minerals title with all environmental requirements and obligations established pursuant to the Acts, its regulations and by any other law in force; periodically audit the environmental requirements and obligations established pursuant to the Act, its regulations and by any other law in force and make recommendations thereon to the Ministers; and liaise with relevant agencies of Government with respect to the social and environmental issues involved in mining operations, mine closure and reclamation of land.

Other innovations in Abakaliki quarry is the establishment in each state of the Federation a committee to be known as the mineral resources and environmental management committee. The Committee in each state is consisted of a representative of the mines environmental compliance department in the ministry who shall be the Chairman of the committee; a representative of the ministry responsible for land matters or related matters in the state; the mines officer responsible for the state; a representative of the ministry of agriculture or forestry in the state; a representative of the Surveyor General of the State; a representative of the local government council when matters affecting the said Local Government Area are being considered by the Committee; a representative of the state environment department or agency; a representative of the Federal Ministry of Environment in the State.

In addition, the functions of the committee are to:- consider and advise the minister on issues affecting returns of necessary reports affecting grants of mining titles; consider issues affecting compensation and make necessary recommendations to the Minister; discuss, consider and advise the Minister on the matters affecting pollution and degradation of any land on which any mineral is being extracted; consider such other matters relating to mineral resources development within the state as the Minister may, from time to time, refer to the committee; advise the department established in accordance with the provisions of this Act for the supervision of mineral exploitation and the implementation of social and environmental protection measures; advise the local government areas and committees on the implementation of programs for environmental protection and sustainable management of mineral resources; advise and other necessary assistance required by holders of mineral titles in their interaction with state governments, local government councils, communities, civil institutions and other stakeholders; advise the minister in resolving conflicts between stakeholders, and advise the Minister in respect of matters connected with the implementation of the Act.

The committee in the process of achieving its statutory functions shall meet at least once every three months and at such times as the Minister may deem necessary and regulate its own procedure. The chairman shall appoint a competent officer from the mines inspectorate unit in the state to be the secretary of the committee. The secretary shall have no right to vote at any meeting of the committee. The committee shall forward its report to the Minister after each meeting. Where the committee desires to obtain the advise of a host community or any other person on a particular matter, the committee may co-opt a representative of the relevant host community or any person as a member or such period as it thinks fit, but such a person shall not be entitled to vote in any meeting of the committee and his attendance shall not count towards a quorum. The chairman and three other members shall form a quorum at a meeting of the committee. Every meeting of the committee shall be presided over by the chairman or in his absence, by the Mines officer for the state. If on any question to be determined there is an equality of votes, the chairman shall have a casting vote and the committee shall have the power to determine its own procedure.

Besides, the holder of an exploration licence who sells any Mineral Resources as provided for in the Act shall be subject to the payment of royalty as if the mineral resources sold were obtained under a mining lease. Therefore, all naturally occurring quarriable minerals such as shale sedimentary igneous rocks and others has to be extracted under mining leases. Also, the holder of mineral title shall, in exercise of his rights under the mineral title, have regard to the effect of the mining operations on the environment and take such steps as may be necessary to prevent pollution of the environment resulting from the mining operation.

What is more, the holder of a quarry lease shall prior to the commencement of any development activity with the lease area conclude with the host community where the operations are to be concluded an agreement referred to as a Community Development Agreement or other such agreement that will ensure the transfer of social and economic benefits to the community. The Community Development Agreement shall contain undertakings with respect to the social and economic contributions that the project will make to the sustainability of such community.

The Community Development Agreement shall address all or some of the following issues that shall be relevant to the host community like: educational scholarship, apprenticeship, technical training and employment opportunities for indigenes of the communities; financial or other forms of contributory support for infrastructural development and maintenance such as education, health or other community services, roads, water and power.

In the event of the failure of the host community and the lessee, after several attempts to conclude the Community Development Agreement by the time the title holder is ready to commence development work on the lease area the matter shall be referred to the Minister for resolution. Also, the Community Development Agreement shall be subject to review every five (5) years and reviewed by the parties, have binding effect on the parties. The implications of Community Development Agreement which emphasized social responsibility on the part of the mining firms/stone crushing owners will be clearly presented in the subsequent chapter.

Lastly, the Community Development Agreement shall specify appropriate consultative and monitoring frameworks between mining company and the host Community and the means by which the community may participate in the planning, implementation, management and monitoring of activities carried out under the agreement79. The strict compliance to the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act no. 34 of 1999 which was re-enacted in 2007 as highlighted above encouraged enormously the growth of the quarry industry in Abakaliki, as it created industrial and social harmony, economic empowerment and infrastructural development in the industry during the period under assessment.




The Quarry industry in Abakaliki is undertaken by both the private and public enterprises under the small scale industries. These industries are seen by the government as an important agency for transforming the bounty of land for the benefit of the people and government. The aim for its establishment is to achieve social and economic development by encouraging as in the case of the quarry industries, self employment and other employment opportunities for others. The basis of the industry according to National Directorate of Employment is targeted at reduction the rate of too much over dependence on government and large firms for salaried employment. They order in is to stimulate rural development and achieve meaningful level of broad-based economic and industrial development that will uplift the social status of the host communities and stranger elements.

This chapter is therefore concerned with the appraisal of the consequences of the quarry industry in Abakaliki as such will look at both the advantages and disadvantages of the industry. Part of the advantages of the industry is employment generation: Generally employment has to do with the word one does to earn money or for a living. Industry owner are not Father Christmas hence those under the employment are given a condition of service such includes designated tasks which they perform for payment. Prior to the quarry industry, Abakaliki people were traditionally farmers. The people also found other sources of engagement outside agriculture like trading as medicine men etc. The establishment of the industry at the end of the Nigeria Civil War helped to reduce unemployment condition of the people, as it created job opportunities for various categories of persons both skilled and skilled. For instance, opportunities arose for electricians, motor mechanics, drivers, crusher operators, carpenters, excavator operators, and all other categories of earth moving machine mechanics were employed. In addition, clerks, account clerks and supervisors were employed.

Above all, it will be pertinent to note that during the first phase of the industry which lasted between 1970-1998, it was the multi-national firms of SEEGEN and Reynold Construction Company that employed the highest number of persons because of the nature of the contract which has to do with road construction and the limited time frame required for its completion. The indigenous quarry out-fits though more in number employed very few persons. They had a lot of challenges to grapple with such as finance, obsolete equipment and poor attitude to work but attained an appreciable level of stability in terms of employment, production and mechanization during the second phase 1999-2007.

Below are employment tables reflecting various categories of persons employed during the first and second phases of quarrying in Abakaliki.

Number of Quarry out-fits 2 (Mega crusher)
Number of Electricians employed 45
Number of motor Mechanic employed 56
Number of Drivers employed 100
Number of Crusher operators 30
Number of Carpenters 25
Number of Excavator operators 36
Number of Earth-moving machine operators employed 65
Number of Clerical staff 70
Number of Account clerk 38
Number of Supervisors 70
Total number of persons employed 535

Figure 11: First phase 1970 – 1998 (Expatriate Quarries)

Source: Eddy Ogada, Head of Operations, Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited.


Number of Quarry Out-fits 4
Number of Electricians Employed 4
Number of Motor Mechanics Employed 4
Number of Drivers employed 4
Number of Crusher Operators 4
Number of Carpenters 4
Number of Excavator operators 4
Number of Earth-moving machine operators employed 4
Number of Clerical Staff Employed 4
Number of Account Clerks 4
Number of Supervisors 4
Total number of persons employed 40

Figure 12: First phase 1970 – 1998 (Indigenous Quarries)

Source: Eddy Ogada, Head of operations Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited.

Number of Quarry out-fits 120
Number of Electricians employed 120
Number of Motor Mechanics employed 82
Number of Drivers employed 120
Number of Crusher operators 120
Number of Carpenters 61
Number of Excavator operators 72
Number of Earth-moving machine operators employed 50
Number of Clerical staff employed 120
Number of Account clerks 120
Number of Supervisors 120
Total number of persons employed 1105

Figure 13: Second phase 1999 – 2007 (Private and government Quarry Out-fit)

Source: Eddy Ogada, Head of Operations, Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited.

It should equally be noted that the various categories of workers employed during the period under review by the various quarry out-fits included both part-time and full time workers. Most of the part-time workers are farmers that use proceeds from quarry to further strengthen their farming financial status. This accounts for the occasional fluctuation of labour in the industry. For instance, during the rainy season there is always a shortage of casual workers because most of them are engaged in their respective farms and get back to quarry sites during the dry season. This equally accounts for fluctuation in wages in the industry during the rainy and dry seasons.

Nevertheless, the industry indirectly provides employment opportunities for the people of Abakaliki; in virtually all departments of the industry. Both at the mines and the crushing sites, there are food canteens, patent medicine stores, general mobile service (GSM) operators, photographers, hair-saloons, food vendors, beer parlours and other allied afterwork recreational services. All these setups to a large extent, empowered the people financially, and provided them means of sustenance and self employment opportunities thereby reducing the over dependence on government and the large firms for salaried employment.

For instance, when Ebonyi State was created in 1996, Marlum Nigeria limited partnering with Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited rolled out a youth empowerment programme as an aspect of its social responsibility. The programme assisted in providing the much needed lower technical manpower for the young state and re-engineered the industry for better performance. About two hundred (200) persons benefited from the scheme and were trained as motor mechanics, electricians, welders, plumbers, draughtsman, tele-communication technicians, vaulknizers, masons, tailors, and heavy duty mechanics. Thirty percent of the participants were drawn from the host communities while the remaining seventy percent were drawn from the thirteen local government areas of Ebonyi State. At the end of the programme, thirty percent of the participants were employed in the industry and the rest were either self employed or were employed by the state government. Therefore the role of the industry in the area of employment generation can never be over-emphasized.

Execution of Community Based Development Projects: The industry assisted both the mining and the crushing site communities in executing most of their community based projects. For instance, the mining community of Onuebonyi–Izzi executed a lot of community based projects such as schools, bore-holes, markets et cetera. The mining companies also awarded university and other tertiary institution scholarships to deserving children of the families who were directly affected by the mining activities; like some of them whose family houses were affected and were forced to relocate. It was possible to record success in the above mentioned areas through the following ways; Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Onuebonyi-Izzi community and Trade Afrik Nigeria Limited and tolls charged per tipper lorry leaving the mine. The Memorandum of understanding emphasized social responsibility. This implies that quarry companies should strive at executing some projects that will improve the welfare of the host communities. The net effect is to enhance quality of life in the broadest possible way. To be specific, majority of the projects highlighted above were executed during the second phase of the industry, 1999 – 2007.

Besides, the mining community of Onuebonyi-Izzi charged one hundred and fifty naira only (N150.00) per tipper lorry carrying ten (10) tons load of quarry products leaving the mining site. Therefore between 1999 and 2007 about 1,511640 tons of quarry products left the mining site conveyed by 151,164 tipper lorries that paid (N150.00) each. All in all, between 1999 – 2007 the mining community of Onuebonyi got Twenty Two Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Four Thousand, Six Hundred Naira (N22,674,600) only. Source: Hon. Gilbert Negele, Councilor Ward II Onuebonyi – Izzi. The proceeds from the above mentioned arrangement were channeled into executing some of the projects mentioned above.

Furthermore, the quarry crushing site community of Umuogharu equally benefitted financially from the quarry to execute various community based projects. Governor Martin Elechi’s media chart on 4th June 2007, after his inauguration ceremony of 29th May 2007, brought Umuogharu community in Ezza South Local government area in Ebonyi State to lime light. This was as a result of the government decision to relocate the un-organized quarry crushing site along Abakaliki-Enugu highway to Umuogharu community in Ezza South Local Government area to instill control and discipline in the industry. This became a milestone to Umuogharu community development. The community was able to access World Bank Microprojects such as rural electrification, refurbishing of schools and building of health centres. These projects were targeted towards poverty alleviation, financed by the World Bank through the State Government payment of twenty percent (20%) counterpart fund. The community charged two hundred naira (N200.00) only for every ton (10) tons tipper load of quarry products leaving the crushing site. Proceeds from the arrangement enabled the community to pay twenty percent (20%) counter part fund required by the state Community and Social Development Agency (SDA) that co-ordinates the projects for the World Bank in Ebonyi State.

Between 1999 and 2007, an estimate of one million, five Hundred and eleven thousand, six hundred and forty (1,511640) tons of quarry products left the crushing site conveyed by one hundred and fifty one thousand, one hundred and sixty four (151,164) tipper lorries that paid two hundred naira (N200.00) only each. Source: Maximus Nwoba, Chairman Umuogharu Town union. Therefore during the period stated above a total of Thirty Million, Two Hundred and Thirty Thousand Eight Hundred Naira only (N30,232,800) was realized by the community. Part of the amount realized was further channeled into the construction of community access roads and culverts. Indeed the industry has assisted both the mining and the crushing site communities tremendously in executing most of their community based projects.

Educational Empowerment

Education is the process by which the mind develops through learning at School, College or University. The purpose of education is to help an individual to cope with life as an adult and to help an individual to use all the skills acquired to prepare his or herself to be a useful member of the society. Apart from the educational opportunities offered under the memorandum of understanding; the host communities ploughed a greater chunk of the resource accruing from the tolls to education. Especially, during the second phase of the industry 1999 – 2007, primary and secondary schools enrollment doubled in the mining community of Onuebonyi-Izzi and quarry crushing community of Umuogharu. This was the result of remarkable growth in the industry and high population concentration in the area during the second phase of the industry. For instance during the first phase 1970 – 1998 both communities had one primary and one secondary school each with an average annual pupils and students enrollment of four hundred (400) annually. But during the second phase, both communities could boast of two primary and two secondary schools, with an annual population enrollment of eight hundred and ninety one pupils and students (891).

The above stated ingenuity of the people served as a lunch pad for educational empowerment in the host communities. Scholarship schemes were established and more importantly women among them were encouraged to go beyond secondary school education so as to break the seemingly jinx of the first phase which tended to suggest that womeneducation is a waste. The scholarship schemes revolve around the indigenes of the host communities. There is no emphasis on a particular course of study except that the beneficiary of the scheme must pursue a degree or Higher National Diploma programme in any tertiary institution or university in Nigeria.

It will be interesting to note that the scholarship schemes over the years have produced positive results. At present, graduates of the host communities are gainfully, employed in the private, and public sectors of the Nigerian economy and contributing their quota to the economic development of the Nigerian economy. For example, Dr. Nwangele a medical doctor, and one time Commissioner for health during the first tenure of Chief Martin Elechi’s administration in 2007, is one of beneficiaries of the scheme.

Execution of the State Government contracts: The revolutionary trend in the industry coincided with the creation of Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States in 1976, 1991 and 1996 respectively. The creation of Anambra and Enugu States with Abakaliki as one of the senatorial districts in both the old Enugu and Anambra States did not witness high profile infrastructural development when compared with the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996 during the regime of General Sani Abacha. Ebonyi State is made up of thirteen (13) local government areas with a total population of about 1,676 million. However, ten (10) kilometer radius is accepted and recommended as the limit of the capital territory. With the creation of Ebonyi State as earlier mentioned, the need arose for infrastructural development and to give the young state a face lift, the first Executive Governor of the state Dr. Sam Egwu in his inaugural speech, enumerated various areas of need like major road construction, feeder roads, ring roads and township roads. Others are establishment of a university, college of education, Ebonyi State international trade centre complex, international conference centre just to mention but a few.

The economic recession of 1974, 1975, 1980 – 85 which witnessed a drop in crude oil price, the collapse of primary commodity prices led to devaluation of Naira against other foreign currencies like the United States dollar. This resulted in the rise tide of trade protectionism by the developed countries coupled with rise in interest rates. The spiral effect of the economic recession reduced the number of multi-national construction companies, as the trade imbalance has to addressed through external borrowing. The corollary was a rapid increase in the country’s external debt. This further reduced drastically government expenditures. The consequences of the above developments led to the emergence of few indigenous construction firms such as Hapel, Edon, RCF, and Patan Nigeria limited which filled the gap created by the exit of the multi-national firms. The indigenous construction firms patronized both government and private stone crushing companies.

The indigenous construction companies charged less to executive contracts awarded to them where compared to their expatriate counterparts. Therefore, most of the abandoned state government road projects such as Effium Ezzamgbo road, Umuezeoka-Onueke ring road et cetera abandoned over the years by the old Anambra and Enugu States were now given prompt attention. All the road construction projects initiated by the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and the Directorate of Food, Road and Rural infrastructure (DEFRRI) were also completed using quarry products from Onuebonyi-Izzi.

Below in figure 16 is a list of some of the major projects initiated by the Ebonyi State Government from 1999 – 2007.

S/N Name of project Year Awarded Contractor & Status of the Project Client
1 Construction of Onueke Ebonyi-Ezzamgbo April 2003 Hapel Nig. Ltd. Completed 2011 Ebonyi State
2 Construction of Nwezenyi Onuebonyi Road April 2003 RCF Nig. Ltd. Completed 2004  
3 Building of Ebonyi State University June 2004 Hapel Xedon Nig. Ltd. Completed Ebonyi State Government.
4 Ebonyi State International Trade Fair Complex February 2002 Edon Nig. Ltd. Yet to be fully completed Ebonyi State Government.
5 Reconstruction/Dualization of some designated road in Abakaliki township February 2002 Hapel Nig. Ltd. Completed Ebonyi State/World Bank
6 Construction of Ntezi-Agba-Isu Road May 2003 Hapel Nig. Ltd. Completed Ebonyi State Government.
7 Special repairs of EnuguAbakaliki Road April 2003 Hapel Nig. Ltd. Completed Ebonyi State Government.
8 Dualization of a section of Abakaliki-Enugu highway. November 2007 Patan Nig. Ltd. Completed Ebonyi State Government.
9 Reconstruction of Ishieke-KpiriKpiri Road. May 2003 Hapel Nig. Ltd. Ebonyi State Government.
10 International Conference Centre Building June 20003 RCF Nig. Limited. Ebonyi State Government.
11 Abakaliki International Market Complex September 2007 Costain Nig. Ltd. Yet to be fully competed Ebonyi State Government.
12 Construction of 160 Unity Bridges in the State September 2007 RCF & Patan Nig. Ltd. Completed Ebonyi State Government.
13 New Capital City Development Ochoudo City October 2007 RCF, Costain & Patan Yet to be fully competed Ebonyi State Government.

Source: Project Monitoring Department Ministry of Works and Housing Ebonyi State Headquarters Abakaliki.

Disadvantages of the quarry industry

Decline in Agriculture

Agriculture is a major sector of economic activities which provide human beings with some of their basic needs. Agricultural out-puts are food and raw materials. Without the food products life can hardly be sustained; and without raw materials the industrial sector of the economy cannot be fully developed.

Abakaliki is a typical example of an agriculturally based society. The coming of quarry in Abakaliki (Onuebonyi-Izzi) overtime resulted in the decline of traditional agriculture which from time immemorial has been the mainstay of the people’s economy. In some other parts of Nigeria, Abakaliki inclusive, communal ownership of land is practiced. Usually the clan, village or community owns the land and it is cultivated or used together. Where this is practiced, considerable scope for agricultural improvement and higher living standard can be attained.

During the period under assessment communal ownership of land with emphasis on land tenure was practiced in Abakaliki. There was food security as every family could produce annually enough food stuff that could sustain them before the next planting season commence. The advent of quarry industry resulted to the dwindling fortunes in agriculture due to increased rural-urban drift. By this development, agriculture started losing its vital labour force without replacing it with mechanization. Aged parents now farm the fields and production status is of course small.

At the initial stage, the migrant labourers to the quarry industry regarded their wage earning activity not as a permanent full-time employment but as a periodical spare-time activity to earn a certain sum of money in addition to their claims on the subsistence economy. As the arrangement progressed, they discovered that earnings from quarry were more attractive than farming and resorted to paying little attention to farming especially during the farming season. Apart from employment opportunities which the industry provided they started having greater access to social amenities provided by the government no matter how inadequate when compared with the living standard in the villages. With the intensified rural-urban drift agriculture continued to experience gradual decline. Staple food crops such as yam (ji), cocoyam (Nkashi) that attracted title holding among the rich and wealthy farmers in the past started declining, as well as animal husbandry production such as fowls, goats, sheep, cows and pigs et cetera that served as alternative sources of income and protein apart from food crops. At present, most of the young men and women and even children are also gainfully employed in the quarry industry because of the faster financial returns accruing from the sector when compared than farming. During major festivals such as Christmas and new yam festivals, they always come home with frozen and live poultry products as against the usual practices of picking from locally raised fowls that are even more nutritious.

The relocation process as a result of quarry activities adversely affected agriculture in Abakaliki because large expanse of arable lands where most communities lived and farmed in the past are used for quarry. The affected communities were forced to relocate to an environment that is not convenient enough to practice traditional land tenure system of agriculture. An attempt to replicate and adapt to their usual way of life, resulted to clashes over-land. On the strength of above, these communities saw quarry as an alternative means of livelihood apart from agriculture.

The position of Abakaliki as one of the major areas for rice production east of the Niger is under threat because of labour drift to quarry. These young persons usually visit home during festivities and at other times with bags of foreign rice. Equally during the rice planting season, the cost of labour is always high and the proportions of farmers that can afford to pay such high cost are small. All these in the final analysis, made the rice swamp in Abakaliki to remain under utilized and continuous decline in rice cultivation persisted.

Environmental Degradation

Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of its resources such as air, water and soil, the destruction of ecosystem and the extinction of wild life. In Onuebonyi-Izzi hundreds of hectares of marginal and barren lands have emerged as a result of quarry activities. In the mines, artificial lakes have developed harbouring all sorts of dangerous animals like crocodiles, snakes and so on. The entire ecosystem has been altered. Most of the original inhabitants of Onuebonyi-Izzi were tactically forced to migrate to various locations thereby distorting the people’s history and identity. The recent communal clashes between Izzi clan in Ebonyi State and Ukele in Cross River State are as result of quarry activities 101. To worsen the whole situation, no form of land rehabilitation is being undertaken to reclaim the mine site for other proposes.

Generally, quarry activities in Onuebonyi-Izzi has resulted to surface run-off erosion and sedimentation which create water pollution and degradation problems as well as a host of other ecological disasters. Quarry activities in the area has made the environment harsh for vegetation due to lack of water nutrients, organic matter, low PH, low water retaining capacity, toxic levels of trace metals, low compaction and poor physical conditions of spoil materials. The consequences of the above, is the impairment of fragile eco-system and wild life habitats and the destruction of cultural resources, historic and religious.

The land reclamation process after quarry as provided in the section 115 of the Nigerian minerals and mining Act of 2007 have continuously been violated by the major quarry companies like Trade Afrik and its subsidiary Marlum Nigeria Limited. The inspectorate unit of mines department most of the time, compromise their positions by failing to represent the real fact of the issue in their report rendition. The Community development agreement which serves as a link between the mining firms and the host communities is not religiously followed.

Destruction/Disarticulation of societal values, and tradition/norms

A society is an organized group of persons, community or state for the purpose of achieving the objectives of a human society such as governance and other aspects of societal development. Societal values can also be achieved by imbibing the mores, lores and ethics of the society.

Before the advent of quarry, Abakaliki people attained a high degree of societal harmony through strict adherence to societal ethics and traditions such as festivals. The new yam festival (ojiji) presided over by the elders from Amagu the original home of Izzi clan which serves as an instrument of unity and traditional re-awakening among the people; in appeasing the ancestral spirit (obiphe), and traditional marriage (ibe-ugwu) contributed immensely in consolidating unity and harmony among the people. The coming of the quarry industry negatively impacted on the above societal values and traditions. The quarry mines at Onu-ebonyi Izzi and the quarry crushing site located at Umuogharu created a different economic and social environmental outside the traditional setting. A society that is well known for its high level sanity and discipline is at present engulfed with all manners of vices such as rape, teenage pregnancy, stealing, drug addicts, school drops outs, okada riding, proliferation of off licence beer parlours, sale of illicit gin and others. For instance mining activities in Rio-De-Jeniero in Brazil, Peru, Zaldivar in Chile and South Africa led to the development of slums. These slums are well known for their high crime rate, drug consumption such as cannabis or Indian hemp and other un-organized ways of life.

There are slums or ghettos scattered around the quarry mines and crushing sites. National Drugs Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Surveillance report revealed that large quantities of Indian hemp and other related drugs are consumed within the quarry industry vicinity. A closer look at the activities of the social welfare department under the ministry of local government and chieftaincy matters in Ebonyi State indicate that most of the family/marriage issues arising from husband or wife abandoning their families most of the time are linked to people residing within the quarry slums. Finally the report from the welfare department of the Nigeria police headquarters Abakaliki Ebonyi State corroborated the above stated facts.

Energy Crisis

Power supply is a major factor in the location of industry. Power supply in Abakaliki during the period under review falls below energy requirement for optimal performance in the quarry industry. Ebonyi State with its capital at Abakaliki after its creation in 1996, inherited 67 KVA power transmitting station from Enugu State that is equally connected to the national grid.

After the state creation, the quest for infrastructural development and industrialization began; the dream was scuttled because the energy situation during the period posed the challenge. The quarry industry on inception had no designated layout. Therefore, both the industry and residential areas in Abakaliki were connected to one power feeder. This as a result causes epileptic power supply and affects production in the long run analysis.

In addition, because of the linkage between energy and production activities quarry managers directly or indirectly heightened social problems in the industry by provision of squatters apart from the slums within the industry. The reason for the arrangement is that in an event of epileptic power supply workers that fail to complete their assignments commensurate to their pay are sometimes persuaded by the quarry owners to spend the night at the quarry and stone crushing site awaiting when power supply will be restored. At times at about mid-night, they woke-up to complete the assignment.

Finally, the activities of Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc (PHCN), Abakaliki is not good enough to give a solution to energy crisis. The company has been accused of arbitrary power billing method and use of obsolete equipment. Some quarry owners because of the lacuna are out of business as they can no longer break-even as a result of the above stated challenges.

Health Hazards

Occupational exposure to dust is a well-known phenomenon, especially in various parts of developing countries like Abakaliki. Although sources of air pollutants include power plants, cement factories, refineries and petrochemical industries, the emission of particulates is quite high from quarries. The health impacts of working in stone quarrying industry are enormous.

Quarry products are increasingly demanded for industrial, domestic agricultural and other purposes to satisfy the needs of the rapidly growing population. The industry in Ebonyi State employs at least 1000 workers, both men and women, aged between 10 and 60 years. The fact that no specific professional training is required and because of high level unemployment currently in Nigeria, have encouraged all categories of people, including under aged children, young women of child bearing age and even pregnant women, to get involved in quarrying, irrespective of the associated health hazards.

Individuals working in dusty environment are exposed to the risk of inhaling particulate materials for example silica that may lead to adverse respiratory effects, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, acute and chronic silicosis, lung cancer, et cetera, which are disabling and can be fatal. For instance reports, have shown that there are high prevalence of silicosis among workers in Umuogharu quarry sites. The major respiratory symptoms among these workers include non-productive cough, chest pain, catarrh and dysnea. Considerable pulmonary function impairment has been reported among Umuogharu quarry workers.

The study on pulmonary problems among quarry workers of stone crushing industrial site at Umuogharu, and Onuebonyi-Izzi, Ebonyi State Nigeria revealed the health implications of continuous exposure to stone dust. From the cross-section at study a total of 403 workers, including men and women between 10 and 60 years entered the study. They were grouped into four depending on the number of years each worker had spent working in the quarry industry, that is the duration of exposure to the quarry dust. The first group had 5 years of exposure, the second group had 5-10 years, the third had 10-15 years, and the forth group had 15 years of exposure. All groups were investigated for respiratory problems, past history of respiratory diseases, and lung functions. The participants were also evaluated by radiography respiratory symptoms and past history of pulmonary diseases were investigated with a structured questionnaire based on international methods (pre-tested for understanding of the study population). The workers were interviewed daily.

In addition to the question of respiratory problems and past history of lung diseases were also investigated thorough medical examination (health history and physical examination). Lung function impairment was investigated with spirometry and chest x-rays. The spirometry was carried out using a calibrated portable spirometer (micro peak uk). Spirometry was done with participants sitting at an ambient room temperature; the subjects were asked to exhale into the spirometer as forcefully as possible after maximum inspiration. The test was repeated three times after adequate rest and the highest reading was used. The parameters measured were Forced Vita Capacity (FVC) and Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV). The chest x-ray was carried out through the assistance of a trained radiographer and interpreted by a qualified radiologist.

Majority of the workers were stone breaker (40%) and loaders (30.3%); both sexes were equally engaged in stone quarrying 51.6% male and 48.4% female; higher proportions of the workers were married (58.3%). While only one subject was found to have no formal education, majority of the workers had primary (40.2%) and secondary (49.1%) education with (10.2%) of the workers educated to the tertiary education level. Majority of the quarry workers especially during the second phase of the quarry were fully engaged (96.3%) with only (3.7%) on part time. Unfortunately despite these catalogues of diseases associated with the industry, their managers appear nonchalant on the issues of provisions of safety gadgets to the workers. Medical assistance is next to nothing and the workers are left to fend for themselves.

Parameters N (%)
Job designation  
Breaking of stones 161 (40.0)
Loading stones 122 (30.3)
Grinding stones 78 (19.3)
Others 42 (10.4)
Total 403 (100)
Male 208 (51.6)
Female 195 (48.4)
Total 403 (100)
Marital Status  
Single 168 (41.7)
Married 235 (58.3)
Total 403 (100)
Educational Level  
None 1 (0.3)
Primary 162 (40.2)
Secondary 198 (49.1)
Tertiary 42 (10.4)
Total 403 (100)
Mode of employment  
Full-time 308 (96.3)
Part-time 15 (3.7)
Total 403 (100)

Figure 20 shows characteristics of quarry workers at Umuogharu stone quarry industrial site.

Source: A.N. Nwibo and E.I. Ugwuja et al “Pulmonary problems among Quarry workers of stone crushing industries site at Umuogharu, Ebonyi state Nigeria”.

The respiratory problems and availability of medical care and use of safety measures are presented in Fig 21 below. The major respiratory problems recorded were occasional chest pain (47.6%), and occasional cough (40.7%), 0.5% had sputum mixed with blood. Information on the availability of medical care in the quarry industrial site and use of safety measures by the quarry workers revealed total absence of a medical center in the quarry site. 74 Almost all the quarry workers (98.3%) used no self-protective devices, only 0.5% used either apron or other protective devices while at work.

Parameters N (%)
Respiratory problems  
Occasional chest pain 191 (47.4)
Occasional cough 163 (40.5)
Wheezing 21 (5.2)
Shortness of breath 26 (0.5)
Sputum mixed with blood 2 (0.5)
Total 403 (100)


Availability of Medical Care and use of Safety Measures

No medical care 403 (100)
No safety measures  396 (98.3)
Use of face mask 3 (0.7)
Use of apron 2 (0.5)
Use of other devices 2 (0.5)
Total 403 (100)

Figure 21 shows incidence of respiratory problems among quarry workers, availability of medical care at quarry industrial site, and use of safety measures by the quarry workers.

Source: A.N. Nwibo and E.I. Ugwuja et al “Pulmonary problems among Quarry workers of stone crushing industries site at Umuogharu, Ebonyi state Nigeria”.

From the study it was discovered that about 96% of the participants were working in the quarry industrial site on full-time basis, indicating that majority of them are at a high risk of exposure to the respiratory quarry dust. The fact that married women of reproductive age take part in this type of occupation is a matter of public health concern both to the women and their unborn babies. A high prevalence of respiratory problems was noted in the study; the most common problems were occasional chest pain (47.6%) occasional cough (40.7%) the least problem was sputum mixed with blood (0.5%). Finally, it is interesting to note that in addition to respiratory diseases among the subjects observed that heart diseases like (hypertension) may be prevalent among the quarry workers.




The work discussed quarry in Abakaliki during the period under review. However it is important to note that before the advent of quarry Abakaliki people earned their livelihood mainly through agriculture, though not mechanized; thus agriculture depended entirely on family labour. The origin of quarry was traced to the colonial period when the British Colonial administrators 1900-1902 and upwards in a bid to put administrative infrastructure in place applied forced labour strategy and coerced the indigenous populace to provide them with lumps of stones cracked manually from the already existing surface shale/sedimentary and granite deposits at the back of juju hill very close to the present Ebonyi State government house Abakaliki.

The development and growth in the industry was traced to 1970 after the Nigeria Civil War as a result of the so called reconstruction programme of the then Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Yakubu Gowon. Nevertheless, the growth in the industry came in two phases 1970-1998 which marked the period the industry witnessed a lot of challenges that scuttled growth and 1999-2007 when there was a remarkable growth as most of the challenges was brought under control.

Generally, the industry has its positive and negative effects on the socio-economic development of Abakaliki such as employment generation, execution of community based development projects, educational empowerment and execution of the state government projects. On the other hand, the industry led to the decline of agriculture, environmental degradation, destruction/disarticulation of societal values, traditions and norms, energy crisis and health hazards.

Even though there are some negative aspects of the industry, the truth still remains that the industry has been more positive than negative because the community development agreement with emphasis on social responsibility and the ingenuity on the part of the people to manage the resources from the industry effectively is commendable. What is more, the host communities impacted positively on the industry by providing adequate manpower and this accounted for the remarkable growth in the industry. From the above stated facts the host communities and others had access to some basic amenities, financial leverage and employment opportunities.

However, there is need to make quarry in Abakaliki friendlier by carrying out environmental audit on a regular basis, for instance three to five years to compare actual and predicted impacts and effectiveness of suggested environmental management practices. Environmental audits should be designed to determine whether a project proponent is complying with environmental legislation and standards as stipulated in the Nigeria mines and mineral Acts of 2007. The gaps identified in the audit should be addressed and corrected. With these, the un-desirable effects of an environmental degradation could be curtailed hence making sustainable development achievable.

In addition, degradation of air-quality from routine operational emissions should be managed by the application of appropriate pollution control devices installed in all diesel or gasoline powered equipment. Hydrocarbon vapour control should be encouraged in all quarry sites. The mine inspectorate unit or division should in future be vested with the responsibility of making sure quarry industry is appropriately sited blasting procedures properly followed. The division should also make sure minimum blasting equipment are used at the mines and avoid blasting at nights or early mornings. Source of power supply to the quarry sites should equally be taken into consideration to avoid merging the power source for residential areas with that of quarry industry to one power feeder. The de-regulation of the power sector which is one of the transformation agenda of Mr. President under the auspices of the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) should be a morale booster to the solution of epileptic power supply to the Abakaliki quarry industry.

There should be provision of appropriate protective devices for workers by the mining firms. Safety proof devices should be integrated into future plant design so as to improve future safety standards and environmental friendly quarry in Abakaliki. The Federal Ministry of Mines and power should work in tandem with the Federal Ministry of Health to establish a medical centre in the quarry industry. The medical centre should be well equipped to handle cases of health hazards arising from quarry activities. Annual compulsory medical examination for all categories of workers should be put in place.

In the light of the prevailing circumstances, quarry firms and the host communities should work out a more proactive memorandum of understanding (MoU) in future. The terms of reference for both parties should incorporate the following: to identify the community leaders and opinion leaders which must cut a cross all the kindred of the host community including the youths; meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest including environmental matters, develop common projects and exchange ideas towards the execution of the projects including the time-table for the completion of such projects, a working committee should be established to conduct issues affecting the firms and the community. The members of the committee must be the true representative of the community. The memorandum must come into force immediately it is signed by both parties and to remain in force for five year period. It would automatically elapse after five years and a new one must be put in place in an equal partnership by both parties.

Finally, the government at the federal or state levels must carry out its regulatory measures on quarry activities to ensure that workers are protected health wise by ensuring that they are well paid and given safety gadgets for their well being. The old mines should be reclaimed and rehabilitated to guarantee a sustainable environment and ecosystem that is human friendly and not base its major interest on the profit motive. Abakaliki quarry workers deserve a better deal from their employers and government.



Primary Sources

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Unpublished Projects and Theses

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Translation of Oral Interview

Names and Particulars of Interview

S/N Name of Informant Age Status Occupation Place of Interview Date Mode of Interview
1 Agara Michael (Chief) 56 Traditional ruler Farmer Oral data obtained at his residence in Ndu Okpoto village Igbeagu 10/10/12 Direct
2 Aloh, Simon. N., 62 Retired permanent secretary Farmer and a quarry owner Oral data obtained at his residence Onuebonyi-Izzi 04/12/12 Direct
3 Anaeto Vincent 45 Business man and a quarry owner Manager Chief Executive Phase II Extension Stone crushing out-fit Umuogharu quarry Oral data obtained at his office Umuogharu quarry 03/11/12 Direct
4 Anioke Boniface 54 Public servant Head of Administration Trade Afrik Nig. Ltd. Oral data obtained at Trade Afrik Mining site Onuebonyi-Izzi 09/08/12 Direct
5 Chima Gilbert 45 Councilor ward 1 onuebonyi-Izzi politician Oral data obtained at his residence beside Nwezenyi market. 03/03/12 Direct
6 Ebenyi Ogiji 63 Retired civil servant & opinion leader in Onuebonyi-Izzi Quarry owner Oral data obtained at his residence in Onuebonyi-Izzi 20/09/12 Direct
7 Emeokoro Jonas 57 Civil servant Head of Solid Mineral Dep. Ebonyi State Industry of Commerce & Industry Abakaliki Oral data obtained at the ministry office complex off Golf course Abakaliki 27/11/12 Direct
8 Ede, SO 58 Public servant Project monitoring officer Oral data obtained at the State Ministry of Works Office Complex Abakaliki 15/5/12 Direct
9 Cocodia B.O. 40 Public servant Head of Narcotic Department National Drugs Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ebonyi State Command Oral data obtained at the Commands office complex at Ntezi, along Abakaliki-Enugu highway 02/12/13 Direct
10 Ezennaka Ogbuefi 65 Businessman Private quarry industry owner Oral Data Obtained At Umuogharu Quarry industry 17/9/12 Direct
11 Ezekobi Ogbuefi 66 Businessman Manager & Chief Executive Ezekobi Nig. Ltd. and a quarry owner. Oral data obtained at his residence No. 45 Ezza road Abakaliki 20/10/12 Direct
12 Ngele Gilbert 45 Politician Councilor ward II Nkwegu Oral data obtained at his residence behind Nkwuegu Police Station 13/4/12 Direct
13 Nnaemezie Ogbuefi 69 Businessman   Quarry proprietor Umuogharu stone crushing site 20/10/12 Direct
14 Njoku Simon 52 Civil servant Quarry site assessment officer I, Solid Mineral, Department Ministry of Commerce & Industry Abakaliki Ebonyi State Oral data obtained at the office complex off Golf course Abakaliki   Direct
15 Nwankwuda, J.O. 52 Community leader Farmer Oral data obtained at his residence 2 Poles to Iboko-Izzi market 27/11/12 Direct
16 Nwankwo Eleke 70 Community leader A farmer/hunter Oral data obtained at his residence Onuebonyi-Izzi 19/08/12 Direct
17 Nwanja Utobo 70 Leader of thought Farmer Oral data obtained at his residence Onuebonyi-Izzi 05/11/12 Direct
18 Nwalegu Oshibu 79 Local businessman Traditionalist Oral Data Obtained At His Residence Opposite Nwaezenyi Community Secondary School Igbeagu 17/4/12 Direct
19 Nweke Opoke (Chief) 68 Community leader Trader Oral data obtained at his residence Igbeagu-Izzi 20/08/12 Direct
20 Nweze Nome 65 Leader of thought A retired civil servant Oral data obtained at his residence near Nwaezenyi market 26/11/2012 Direct
21 Nwoba Maximus 52 Chairman of Umuogharu town Union Civil servant and a quarry owner Oral data obtained at his residence 2 kilometers to Umuogharu quarry site 23/09/13 Direct
22 Ogbonna Oshigburu 45 Councilor Ward II Ndechi village Politician Oral data obtained at his residence Ndechi 25/7/12. Direct
23 Okuhue S.B. 50 Manager Power Holding Company of Nigeria Limited (PHCN) Pubic servant Oral data obtained at (PHCN) Office Abakaliki 27/09/12 Direct
24 Onyelusi, K.C. 54 Head Geology Unit Federal Ministry of Solid Mineral Office Ebonyi State office Public servant Oral data obtained at his office complex No. 3 Obiora Street Abakaliki 11/12/12 Direct
25 Orji Damian 48 Works Engineering & a Civil Servant Ebonyi State Ministry of Works Public servant Oral data obtained at his office along Prison Service road Abakaliki 11/12/12 Direct
26 Ujebe Alugu 40 Assessment officer 1 State Solid Mineral Department Public servant Oral data obtained at his office Umuogharu Stone crushing site 27/10/12 Direct
27 Utobo Nwanja 70 Community leader Farmer Oral data obtained at his residence Iboko-Izzi 05/11/12 Direct
28 Ukwa Okalishi (Chief) 56 Village Head Farmer Oral data obtained at his residence Okalishi village 20/6/12 Direct



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