Tourism and Environment minister, Pohamba Shifeta has disclosed that the ability of his ministry to monitor and enforce compliance to the Environment Management Act through inspections is being constrained by lack of staff and regional presence.
“Waste management at waste disposal sites through local authorities and across the country continues to be a concern, although improved cooperation is now taking place,” said the minister this week.
He has also observed a significant increase in applications for environment clearance certificates for both new and existing waste disposal sites from these authorities from three to 21 between 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively.
Sadly, the minister revealed that even some government ministries, agencies and offices were not complying with the Act in terms of applying for environmental clearance certificates for listed activities.
Shifeta said such activities include, “Resource removal including natural living resources as per section 27 (2) of the Act.”
“For example, few applications for environmental clearance certificates were received from the ministry of agriculture, water and forestry and the ministry of fisheries and marine resources and their parastatals during the reporting period,” he disclosed.
Shifeta also revealed that the requirement to submit applications through competent authorities is leading to delays in the process, with some lacking the skills to receive the applications and submitting them to the environment commissioner.
“The engagement of competent authorities in the environmental impact assessment review process has also led to delays in some cases,” Shifeta said.
Meanwhile, sand mining continues to be a headache for the ministry and is working with traditional authorities, local authorities and the agriculture ministry and the ministry of mines to address the issue.
Road construction parastatals and private companies’ large scale sand mining activities have also irked Shifeta.
He also said, “Concerns have been raised from industry regarding the need to categorise and classify listed activities according to scale, so that the process of applications for environment clearance can be less cumbersome and expensive for more small-scale activities.”