Amutanga-Otesa Engineering (Pty) Ltd, a company contracted by the Roads Authority to work on the MR 12 road project, has rehabilitated several earth dams in Okatana Constituency that were dug for the construction of the road.
Environmental specialist at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Simon Hangula, says RA and its contracted company have adhered to the compliance order after MET discovered that the company was carrying out sand mining activities at a certain area without an environmental clearance certificate. This followed complaints from some community members in Amutanga village. After they were issued with a compliance order, the burrow pits were rehabilitated.
Hangula says although the RA had obtained an environmental clearance certificate for the construction of the MR 12 project, it failed to obtain a similar document for Burrow Pit 9 at Amutanga village. Burrow Pit 9 that was dug in a certain mahangu field was about two hectares with a radius estimated at 200mx100m. The MR12 project include the construction of Omunhumbu-Okatana-Endola-Onhuno road, which is currently at an advanced stage.
Hangula maintains that sand mining does not only pose a danger to human and animals but to infrastructure in the surroundings too. He gave an example of Omakange road that cost government millions of dollars, but it was washed away a few years after its completion. “Omakange road was not washed away because of shoddy workmanship, but it was due to the pit burrows alongside the road. As time passes, soil will erode obviously from all the sides, including the side of the road. We all know what will happen to the road. If these burrow pits are not rehabilitated, homesteads in the vicinity will be in danger,” says Hangula.
Hangula further maintains that MET is not against development but it is advocating sustainable development, adding that many contractors are failing to comply, which is against the law. Illegal sand mining is a serious offence according to the Environmental Management Act No. 7 of 2007, which can land one behind bars for 25 years, or being fined with up to N$500 000 or both. He says many contractors are failing to comply with the act and MET has handed many of them to the Ministry of Safety and Security for possible arrest. Hangula also maintains that communities must follow the example of community members of Amutanga village by reporting illegal sand mining in their areas. RA project control manager Eli Moses says RA had no intention to contravene the Environmental Management Act. He adds that when Burrow Pit 9 was dug, it was an oversight, which they rectified as soon as the compliance order was issued by MET.
Benedictus Shivute Bonifatius, an elderly man from Amutanga village, has praised the contactors for rehabilitating the burrow pits, maintaining that the rehabilitated spots have been turned into potential gardening spots. He says some places have been left with small and well-constructed earth dams as sources of water for the community, and therefore do not pose a danger to animals and human