IIHEKE YA NAKELE – The community of Iiheke ya Nakele where subsistence sand mining has one of the economic mainstays for over 20 years said it will not entertain sand mining for purposes of resale.
The community in a meeting with the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Natural Resources on Tuesday welcomed talks that pro mining sand will be used for finished products.
“But we are not going to allow people to mine sand to create heaps of sand wherever for purposes of resale. We welcome people who are busy constructing or those who are going to mine to make clay pots for example,” the group spokesperson Lukas Nantanga said.
The parliamentary standing committee was in the region to discuss and seek for recommendations to resolve the sand mining disputes. On Monday, the committee met with farmers at Etunda and was headed to Oshikoto yesterday. Apart from the sand that is used for construction, the area is rich in clay, granite and underground water.
Following the suspension of sand mining activities at Iiheke ya Nakele in March by the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Pohamba Shifeta, a meeting with the concerned community, the Uukwambi Traditional Authority and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to map the way forward did not yield any results.
Nantanga told this publication the traditional authority was imposing suggestions that were not in favour of the community.
Shortly after the suspension of the mining activities, the concerned business community also convened a meeting with the same minister to discuss the predicament in which they find themselves.
Nantanga in the Tuesday meeting argued that the community is not anti-development. “We should use sand sustainably and preserve it for the future generation. What will happen if we finish it all now?” Nantanga questioned.
Chief of Uukwambi Traditional Authority Herman Ndilimani Iipumbu blames the environment ministry for the ongoing sand mining disputes.
Iipumbu said the same ministry that earlier awarded the temporary Environmental Clearance Certificate has now revoked it saying that it was wrongly awarded.
“This is an indication that our government policies are not in order,” said Iipumbu. The traditional authority was allegedly awarded a temporary clearance certificate to permit those wanting to mine sand.
UDF President Apius Auxab advised the community to apply for Exclusive Protecting Licences (EPL) so that only the community has access to the activities therein.
Equally, Swapo parliamentarian Magreth Mahoto particularly encouraged women to stand up for themselves.
Mahoto said allowing outsiders to extract mineral resources is unjust as it is only beneficial to those involved and their community as they create employment for them, while the owners are left to languish in poverty.
Swanu’s President Tangeni Iyambo called on the community to open their eyes when they head to the polls this year.
Iyambo said the communities blindly vote the same people into positions every year, hence their problems remain unresolved.