WINDHOEK - Sand mining has become a serious concern for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism that feels these activities have become a serious destruction to the environment and dangerous to humans, livestock and wildlife when these pits are not rehabilitated.
Of late, illegal sand mining has reportedly been rampant in northern Namibia.
The ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda this week said as Namibia seeks to achieve is developmental goals, especially in the infrastructure development sector, building sand and gravel for roads have become valuable and essential resources in the construction industry.
However, he expressed they are extracted on a daily basis to meet the demand of the sector and mostly in uncoordinated manners.
He noted to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development, all projects deemed to have adverse impacts on the environment require an Environmental Impact Assessment, as per the Environmental Management Act No 7 of 2007.
“Sand mining is one of such activities that require an Environmental Impact Assessment before it can be undertaken. Unfortunately, this legal requirement seem not to be understood by some communities in our country and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism continue to be inundated with complaints on illegal sand mining operations especially from community members in the rural areas,” he said.
In implementing the Environmental Management Act of 2007, the department of environmental affairs has identified a number of gaps and shortcomings, which it has sought to address through an amendment to the Act and the revision of its regulations.
Among the key issues identified are lack of reference to strategic environmental assessments in the Act.
The strategic environmental assessments are normally taken on the levels of policies, plans and programmes and there is currently no provision in the Act for such assessments.
These shortcomings are revealed in the report on the implementation of the Environmental Management Act of 2007 during the 2017/18 financial year compiled by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
Other shortcomings include limited guidance on procedures and processes for the issuing of fines to companies and institutions that are not in compliance with the provisions of the Act.
Another issue is the need to expand and categorise the listed activities under the Act, considered necessary to improve the efficiency of implementation.
Muyunda said the ministry have issued compliance orders to sand miners who have not conformed to provision of the Environmental Management Act and operated without the environmental clearance certificate.
To address this, he noted the Ministry of Environment and Tourism will host a consultative workshop on the matter to educate and seek for an amicable solution on sand mining activities.
The workshop took place yesterday at Bennies Entertainment Park in Ongwediva at 10h00 and is open for anyone to attend.
The workshop discussed the interests, roles, needs and values of all parties involved in allocating land for sand mining.