Illegal sand mining hits Rehoboth

The Rehoboth Town Council is currently battling companies and individuals who are illegally mining sand in the town, town council spokesperson Jeffrey Kasupi told The Villager.

Although there are authorised companies in the town’s data base who are mining within the given demarcations, the towns says many illegal sand miners have popped up.

Kasupi said that the council is by legal mandate responsible for mining sand and imposes regulatory measures in order to regulate and control this activity. “It is unfortunate that there are certain construction companies and even individuals who are mining sand illegally but we have a structure of fi nes and even further legal action against such perpetrators,” Kasupi said.

He further said that the council has started with a process through which they are rehabilitating areas that have been excavated illegally and legally. Kasupi said the council administration has submitted a recommendation for an Environmental Impact Assessment that has already been approved and eventually will be forwarded to our line ministry. He said the submission will also be sent to other relevant agents, including the Ministries of Environment and Tourism and Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Speaking to The Villager Environmental Commissioner at Ministry of Environment and Tourism Teofilus Nghitila said, there are still companies that are involved in commercial sand mining, and they are not in position of a clearance certifi cate making them illegal miners.

“Some of these companies we have given a compliance order and now we have to convert that into a criminal case, this means that we will report this cases to the police, we do have a list of these companies and individuals taking part in illegal sand mining,” Nghitila said. He further said illegal sand mining involves big construction companies as well as small companies, stating that anybody who is involved either big or small is committing a crime as the law does not discriminate since the damage is the same.

“We have even State owned companies which are doing the same illegal sand mining even Municipalities are involved,” he added. The biggest challenge why we cannot stop this act is because of lack of personnel to cover the whole country where this illegal sand mining is taking place, but we have been up to the north and we had several meetings with Traditional Authorities that allocate some of this land for this type of activities, Nghitila said.

“We have established a procedure now on what is needed to be followed, we have also distributed information to local traditional leaders and we are now engaging with the police to assist us in reported cases so criminal procedure can follow,” he noted. According to reports in local media, although the Environmental Management Act of 2007 lists sand-mining as one of the activities which can only be permitted with an Environmental Clearance Certifi cate (ECC), the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry regulates sand-mining in river-beds, while traditional authorities assign or demarcate sites for this purpose.

The ECCs will only be approved by the Environmental Commissioner on condition that there is an approved environmental management plan in line with the provisions of the Act.