Months after the launch of ‘Operation Omake’, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) confirmed yesterday that no environmental clearance certificate has been issued for the campaign.
There is growing concern in some quarters of society that the national cleanup exercise is negatively impacting on the environment, which they fear could led to countless endangered tree species being hacked to extinction.
Operation Omake is the initiative of President Hage Geingob, who called on the general public to clear bushy areas countrywide in order to stop them being used as hideouts by criminals.
According to the Environmental Management Act of 2007 no one, including private and government bodies, may carry out any listed activity without an environmental clearance certificate. Among the listed activities is the removal of resources, including natural living resources.
In some cases, an environmental clearance certificate can be issued without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). EIA is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
MET spokesperson Romeo Muyunda confirmed to New Era yesterday that the ministry has not issued any environmental clearance certificate regarding Operation Omake.
“When the project started the ministry was not consulted to give their views. Because of that there was no environmental clearance certificate given, based on the impact this will have on the environment. It’s a national project, but we were not consulted,” Muyunda said.
However, Muyunda distanced the ministry from the issue, saying the directorate of forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is responsible for issuing permits in cases of de-bushing.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa was not available for comment at the time of going to press.
Some concerned nature-lovers expressed their distress on social media over the issue, saying the operation will led to a loss of biodiversity, if not properly managed. Many note with trepidation that no EIA has been done on Operation Omake, which has since been extended to other towns countrywide.
They say if not well managed, the country will endure destruction of habitats, deforestation, desertification and severe soil erosion.
“I know it is Operational Omake, but the problem and the challenge remains: loss of biodiversity, many wonderful species of plants and animals have been lost, and many others remain endangered.
“Plants absorb carbon dioxide CO2 (a greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere and in return, it gives off oxygen. Destroying the forests means CO2 will remain in the atmosphere. This will alter the climate of that region,” one observer remarked online.
Although some believe that Operation Omake will significantly reduce crime in Namibia, many said the operation needs clear guidelines, instead of just chopping down big trees. ated by food availability. So cats then became a problem and start eating other animals including this birds until the whole population of this birds were wiped out into extinction. The moral of this story is that…….you can’t solve a problem by creating a new and dangerous problem. Let us pause and think deep for the sustainable solutions to crime. Cutting down trees is no solution but just a mere destructions to the environment. That is my poor opinion.
“Very soon the only habitats for some of these reptiles will be our houses… imagine sharing a house with a mamba! For sure, that’s already guaranteed… looking at the way Operation Omake is being conducted!” another commentator noted.
“I personally feel this (Operation Omake) is insane. Namibian people still believe global warming is some school/textbook content. They need to be taught in layman’s words how real global warming is and the importance of trees in combating this,” another skeptic posted.
Minister of Safety and Security Charles Namoloh launched Operation Omake at the very same place where the lifeless bodies of the sisters Kuaseua (Cecilia and Jacqueline) were found in Khomasdal on October 9 last year.
Operation Omake is a joint effort between the Namibian police force, Windhoek City Police and Namibian Defence Force to ensure there is no place for criminals to hide in Namibia.
Concealed and bushy riverbeds in Windhoek have become breeding grounds for criminal activities, including rape, theft and murder. Often pedestrians taking shortcuts on footpaths through the shrouded bushy areas put themselves at risk of attack.
The operation was established during a visit by President Hage Geingob to the scene of the murder of the Kuaseua sisters a day after the bodies were found, Namoloh said, and law enforcement officials performed various tasks to clear the area during the launch, as a symbol of their commitment to a safer Namibia.
The activities involved bulldozer and chainsaws.