ONGHA - The Roads Authority (RA) will within the next year rehabilitate about 119 burrow pits in the Ohangwena region.
The project, which is estimated to cost at least N$29 million, is planed to be completed in a space of a year and eight months.
The rehabilitation will be done in close consultation with the traditional leaderships as some communities would want to use the burrow pits to harvest water for their livestock.
The announcement of the rehabilitation of the burrow pits was made at a press briefing at Ongha on Thursday, which was also addressed by the environment minister Pohamba Shifeta.
The rehabilitation in Ohangwena is a pilot project, which if successful, will be extended to the rest of the country.
RA CEO Conrad Lutombi said some of the burrow pits to be rehabilitated have been in existence before independence.
Lutombi said the burrow pits near roads are particularly of a concern.
To avoid further unauthorised burrow pits, Lutombi said RA would hold a one month campaign to sensitise communities on the danger and consequences of mining sand without authorisation.
Also speaking at the briefing, Shifeta advised RA to trace contractors and individuals who have in the recent years been culprits of sand mining instead of taking the bullet alone.
“The public can assist us with the identification of the people who have extracted underground resources and left burrow pits un-rehabilitated so that they can be brought to task,” said Shifeta.
He said the ministry can however only take on culprits after the 2012 Environmental Management Act came into effect.
Shifeta further said families whose relatives have died or have been injured in burrow pits that were left un-rehabilitated can also sue the culprits.
The minister said sand miners have been warned and cannot hide behind the notion that they do not know the consequences of mining.
Whilst acknowledging that sand mining is needed for development programmes particularly in the infrastructure development, he noted it should be done in accordance with the law.
Shifeta said there are criminal cases before the court.