By Nuusita Ashipala
Uukwangula — The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has asked traditional leaders of the Uukwambi Traditional Authority, stop all illegal sand mining activities taking place within their tribal jurisdiction. The authority was to ensure that all sand miners in the area cease the mining operations and apply for environmental clearance certificates, from the MET to mine sand.
This came out during a meeting between environment ministry’s chief inspect Josephat Hiwana and all the six district heads in the Uukwambi Traditional Authority at Uukwangula on Wednesday. The Chief of Uukwambi Traditional Authority Herman Iipumbu and the Councillor of Elim Constituency Gerhard Shiimi also attended the meeting.
The meeting follows heavy criticism from the public, regarding the on-going illegal sand mining activities in the Uukwambi traditional jurisdiction. There are also allegations that sand miners offer bribes to traditional leaders to illegally mine the sand.
“We should put an end to situations where headmen are bribed to give portions of land to be mined illegally. It is not right and should not be condoned,” Hiwana said at the meeting.
Hiwana told the traditional authority that mining sand in the absence of an environmental clearance certificate is tantamount to theft and should not be entertained.
He further advised the traditional leaders to inform potential sand miners, to follow due processes in order to acquire permission to mine sand.
He said it is only when everyone is compliant with the set rules, that the traditional authority can agree on a fixed fee to charge sand miners and generate income for the community.
Some traditional leaders at the meeting charged that the process to acquire such license could be lengthy because the consultants required to evaluate the land are pricey.
But, Hiwana said the ministry is aware of the exorbitant prices, especially for small sand miners, but there is currently no provision for smaller communities.
Maybe it is an area we need to look into when the Act is to be amended,” Hiwana said.