During last Saturday’s climb up a nearby hill we noticed groups of workers breaking stone from the hilltop and loading it into trucks. Yesterday morning I returned to the hill for a closer look. At first it was a case of… Huh!? Who are you and what do you want? But after a while we were all cool with one another.
1. During last Saturday’s climb up a nearby hill we noticed groups of workers breaking stone from the hilltop and loading it into trucks. Yesterday morning I returned to the hill for a closer look.
2. The stone turned out to be a form of granite that is later processed in different ways and used for building: floors, tiles, filling etc.
3. The guys arrive between 6.00 and 6.30 am (Monday to Friday) and work for around 12 hours.
4. Yes, those are chunks of stone being tossed into the back of the truck.
5. The rock surface is heated with fires, which causes it to split. After that metal chisels are placed into the cracks and hammered until sheets of rock break loose.
6. Once a layer of rock has been loosened it is then broken into smaller pieces. No pneumatic drills or automation here: simply man vs rock.
7. The most suitable chisel is chosen for the job at hand. In the background an empty truck heads off in search of cargo.
8. One of the few remaining trees on this part of the hilltop serves as a cafeteria of sorts. Family members prepare lunch and other forms of nourishment.
9. Fires like this one are used to loosen a top layer of rock.
10. And where would anyone be without a wheelbarrow? Meanwhile the many hills of Abuja line the distant horizon.
11. Tea-break! A sweet and concentrated mix of ginger, green tea, and sugar is prepared. It tastes pretty good, actually.
12. One of my new found friends. I asked about his life, and he asked about mine.
13. Tea-breaks are also an opportunity to check in with the family back; like the guy in the middle.
14. It took less than 5 minutes for that pile of rocks to disappear into the back of the truck.
15. More rock tossing. The truth is, watching the rock exctraction process was quite a humbling experience.
16. There goes another rock, flying through the air as if it had a set of wings!
17. The tree in the background, without leaves and without hope, bears witness to the brutality of this process.
18. I could have sworn that truck over there, let out a sigh every time a rock landed on its back.
19. This gives an impression of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ situation. I asked, but no one could tell me how much of the hill would be stripped away.
20. The driver his assistant check the spread of rocks in the back of the truck. The aim is to avoid rocks accidentally flying off while the trucks drive down the hill.
21. When business is good, 20 to 25 trucks are filled to the brim each day.