ONGWEDIVA – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism will today host a sand mining consultative workshop in Ongwediva to educate communities and seek amicable solutions to the escalating problem of sand mining.
The conference will discuss the interests, roles, needs and values of all parties involved in sand mining and the allocation of land for such purposes.
The environment minister, Pohamba Shifeta, will officiate at the event.
Chief PRO in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Romeo Muyunda said sand mining has become a serious concern to the ministry.
In addition, the pits, after they have not been rehabilitated, which is the status quo at many sand mining sites here, pose a threat to human beings, livestock and wildlife.
To protect the environment and to achieve sustainable development, the ministry prescribes that all projects deemed to have adverse impacts on the environment, including sand mining, require an environmental impact assessment to be conducted first.
Approved sites will be certified by the issuance of an environmental clearance certificate, he said.
An environmental impact assessment plan is a prerequisite of the Environmental Management Act No. 7 of 2007.
“Unfortunately, this legal requirement seems not to be understood by some communities in our country and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism continues to be inundated with complaints on illegal sand mining operations, especially from community members in the rural areas,” said Muyunda.
The ministry has in the meantime issued compliance orders to sand miners who are operating without the required environmental clearance certificate.
Although there is an outcry from the public, some of the activities, including sand mining, are critical for Namibia to achieve its developmental goals especially in the infrastructure development sector and construction industry – particularly for connecting communities via gravel roads.
To set an example to other sand miners across the country, the environment ministry has subsequently charged two prominent northern businessmen who have for years been mining sand at an area estimated to be 10 hectares at Ondado in the Oniipa area in Oshikoto Region.
The two businessmen are the mayor of Ondangwa Paavo Amwele and businessman Otto Shikomba, owner of Niimboto Company.
The Police Regional Commander in Oshikoto Region, Commissioner Armas Shivute last week told New Era that the police had dispatched police officers to the site to investigate.