Windhoek-Companies involved in illegal sand mining have been given until 30 March 2018 to formulate rehabilitation plans and rehabilitate the burrow pits they dug in the Oshana region, which have scarred the landscape of that part of the country.
Illegal sand mining companies in the northern regions have been ordered to stop operations forthwith and adhere to the Environmental Management Act 2007 in future, failure which would result in legal action.
This is according to the Environment Commission’s office, which has also issued an ultimatum for illegal sand miners in the northern regions to rehabilitate the burrow pits they dug.
Furthermore, according to the Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila’s office, a resolution taken recently dictates that there be no operation of a burrow pit in crop fields, in the northern regions.
China State Construction, which is contracted to construct the Ondangwa-Oshakati railway, Otesa Construction and Nickel Brick were some of the companies fingered in mining sand without respecting the environment laws of the country.
According to the Conservation Scientist in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ipeinge Mundjulu, the Department of Environmental Affairs conducted an environmental inspection on the reported mushrooming of illegal sand mining in the northern region between 14 and 19 August this year. Inspections were conducted at Omaalala, Epukunoyana, Amutanga, and Iikelo villages in Oshana region as well as in Okalondo village in Ohangwena and Onandjaba in Omusati village.
“The ministry learnt with grave concern of the devastating effects that these illegal sand mining activities have caused, especially to the crop fields,” wrote Mundjulu.
It was because of those observations that the order was issued for companies to stop sand mining.
The latest directive follows an open letter by Affirmative Repositioning (AR) activist Job Shipululo Amupanda, who complained that his village in Oshana region, as with many others, is scattered with burrow pits dug on crop fields by sand miners. He complained that the disused burrow pits are not rehabilitated, essentially creating dams and open pits in crop fields across the villages.
Nghitila earlier warned the ever-escalating illegal sand mining by contractors making huge profits, which has largely been ignored over the years will soon be a thing of the past, as government cautions that such offenders could face serious prosecution.
The illegal activity should only be allowed with an environmental clearance certificate but due to the lucrative business and growth in the construction industry, many people are just extracting the sand illegally and without considering the impact on the environment.