Northern Namibia business owners have decried the closing off of illegal sand pits by the government. This comes a month after the ministry of environment gave a directive to close off the sand pits. The sand miners have since demanded that the environment ministry reopens the closed-off pits, or provide them with alternative ones to use.
In their petition submitted to the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) northern branch chairperson Tomas Koneka Iindji, the business people expressed their displeasure at the suspension of the sand clearance certificate of Iiheke yaNakale and Onanime borrow pits.
According to media reports, the environment ministry’s spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, said that environment minister Pohamba Shifeta received the petition, and would be addressing the business people today at the Ongwediva Trade Fair Centre.
In Namibia, illegal sand mining is a lucrative business, with construction companies and individuals making millions of dollars from selling sand that they mine without permission. The group further claims that there are foreigners who are also awarded tenders for the construction of houses and roads, but their private pits are not suspended.
The Environmental Management Act of 2007 states that a person cannot undertake the activity of sand mining without obtaining an Environmental Clearance Certificate, which is issued after an environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). For a clearance certificate to be issued, the majority of the affected community members must not object to it.
Since last year, The Namibian has visited various areas where sand mining is taking place. Most of the people engaging in this activity do not have an Environmental Clearance Certificate. Some have gone as far as mining into graves for sand, while others had their homesteads swallowed by sandpits, and had to be relocated.