Need to educate public on environmental laws – Shifeta

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Windhoek

Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has stressed the need to minimise the impact of industrial development on the country’s environment, which he describes as fragile.

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Shifeta said there is a need to educate the public on environmental laws, as there are very few people who understand and comply with these laws.

“Currently we are not fully implementing the Environmental Act,” said Shifeta, who argued that most people do not comply with the Act, partly because of their inadequate understanding of environmental laws.

He explained that there are certain activities that cannot be conducted without certification, but people still do.
As a result, public educational programmes will be considered to create awareness and compliance.

In July, two TransNamib locomotives and one of 20 wagons filled with sulphuric acid intended for leaching uranium ore at Rössing Mine at Arandis, derailed near Dune 7 outside Walvis Bay. One tanker can hold about 100 000 litres, meaning the entire cargo was about two million litres of acid.

One of the wagons came off the rails and an acid spill resulted. Shifeta said a report on the incident has been submitted to the ministry.

Highly toxic materials cannot be transported without certification, as this poses serious threats to the environment, but Shifeta said, “This is happening. We’ve seen it and we’ve issued warnings to those who do not comply. We also need to look at ways in which the environment can be used to drive economic development and improve the livelihoods of our people,” he said.

He said the members of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council are looking closely at these issues.
“I’m pleased that they have been able to meet on a regular basis. They have also given me feedback on a number of working sessions that have been held with experts on challenges and opportunities facing the nation, such as drought and flood preparedness,” Shifeta said.

The Environmental Management Act of 2007 provides for the promotion of sustainable management of the environment and the use of natural resources by establishing principles for decision-making on matters affecting the environment.

It also provides for a process of assessment and control of activities that may have detrimental effects on the environment, amongst others.

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