AMUTANGA - Otesa Engineering (Pty) Limited, a company contracted by the Roads Authority (RA) to construct the MR12 road project, has set a good example for other companies involved in pit burrowing by rehabilitating several earth dams in Okatana Constituency that were dug for the construction of the road.
Environmental specialist in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Simon Hangula said RA and its contracted company have adhered to the compliance order after the ministry 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 the two entities were issued with a compliance order, the burrow pits were rehabilitated.
Hangula said although RA had obtained an environmental clearance certificate for the construction of the MR12 project, it failed to obtain a similar document for Burrow Pit 9 at Amutanga village.
Burrow Pit 9, which was dug in a certain mahangu field, was about 200mx100m.
The MR12 project includes the construction of Omunhumbu-Okatana-Endola-Onhuno road, which is currently at an advanced stage.
Hangula maintained that sand mining does not only pose a danger to humans and animals but also poses a danger to infrastructure in the surroundings. He gave an example of Omakange road that cost government millions of dollars, but 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,” said Hangula.
Hangula maintained that the ministry is not against development but advocates sustainable development.
He said many contactors 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 a fine of up to N$500 000, or both.
He said many contractors are failing to comply with the act and the ministry has handed their names to the Ministry of Safety and Security for their possible arrest.
Hangula maintained 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 said RA had no intention to contravene the Environmental Management Act. He maintained that when Burrow Pit 9 was dug, it was an oversight, which they rectified as soon as the compliance order was issued by the ministry.
Benedictus Shivute Bonifatius, an elderly man from Amutanga village, praised the contactors for rehabilitating the burrow pits, maintaining that the rehabilitated spots have been turned into potential gardening spots. He said 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 beings.