ONIIPA - Following a close observation of increased sand mining, the Oniipa councillor Vilho Nuunyango has advised business people to conduct such activities far away from residences.
According to Nuunyango, the constituency has many unoccupied open spaces far from homesteads, where sand mining can be undertaken, to avoid past scenarios where people’s homes are damaged as well as leading to environmental degradation.
Therefore, Nuunyango said, sand mining close to people has often led to conflicts, as some excavations are done contrary to what the policy states.
“I do not personally have a problem with sand mining, as they are assisting us in building our houses, considering Oniipa is also still an upcoming town,” he said.
“My concern is the disregard of policies set in place as contained in the environmental clearance certificate, where you find businesspeople violating and operating beyond the scope thereof.”
The councillor said he had to intervene when the situation escalated, which saw community and businesspeople physically attacking each other.
Furthermore, he referred to the Oshigambo River, saying it is one of the idle places where sand mining can be undertaken, as it will also benefit the community when the burrow pits harvest water.
“That water can be used for animals as well as other agricultural projects, which then greatly benefits the people, as opposed to now where homesteads get flooded,” reasoned Nuunyango.
Last month, environmental commissioner Timoteus Mufeti suspended a mining licence of the Ondonga Traditional Authority to mine at Ondado in the Oniipa constituency.
Mufeti stated in the letter that the licence was revoked for non-compliance after it was observed that the activities interfered with groundwater, as well as the construction of a gravel road to the site without authorisation.
The ministry’s finding came after numerous complaints from the community, who had objected to sand mining activities, stressing that it was an environmental hazard and also leading to land degradation.
The suspension is effective up to 31 August.
The Ondonga Traditional Authority has in the meantime set up a committee to investigate how the situation can be remedied.