15 November 2018

Namibia: Ministry to Hold Sand Mining Workshop At Ongwediva

THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism will host a consultative workshop at Ongwediva today to discuss uncoordinated and illegal sand mining activities taking place in northern Namibia.

The minister of environment and tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, is expected to address the workshop.

In a media statement issued on Tuesday the ministry's chief public relations officer, Romeo Muyunda, said sand mining has become a source of serious concern for the ministry.

"As Namibia seeks to achieve its development goals especially in the infrastructure development sector, building sand and gravel for roads have become valuable and essential resources in the construction industry and are extracted on a daily basis in an uncoordinated manner to meet the demand of the sector," the statement said.

Muyunda said 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 Environment Management Act before they can be undertaken.

An application for an environmental clearance certificate, which is valid for three years, takes less than a month to be processed.

The legal requirement, however, seems not to be understood by some communities and the ministry continues to be inundated with complaints of illegal sand mining operations, especially from community members in rural areas.

"These activities are destructive to the environment and dangerous to human beings, livestock and wildlife when the pits are left unrehabilitated," the statement said.

The workshop, which is open to the public, is aimed at educating people and seeking amicable solutions on sand mining activities and will discuss the interests, roles, needs and values of all parties involved in allocating land for sand mining.

The workshop comes in the wake of media reports of the reckless destruction of homesteads as well as the environment at the hands of sand miners who are making brisk business selling the resource to construction companies.

Recently The Namibian reported that environmental commissioner Teofilus Nghitila asked Oshikoto police to charge two northern businesspeople - Ondangwa mayor Paavo Amwele and Niimboto Shikomba - for engaging in illegal sand mining at the Ondando village.

The pair's illegal mining activities left the homestead of Onesimus Immanuel on the verge of collapsing as it stood on an island surrounded by deep sand pits. Immanuel has since abandoned the homestead and moved in with relatives in the same village.

Additional reporting by Tuyeimo Haidula


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