Illegal sand mining continues

Plunder continues along Okavango River

06 December 2018 | Environment

Many young men are making a living at Rundu by charging as little as N$50 to fill up a bakkie with sand.

A number of young men and boys were spotted on the banks of the Okavango River recently, waiting for bakkies to arrive.

When Namibian Sun arrived, some of the men came running towards the bakkie to ask whether they should fill it with sand.

Massive sand pits were observed nearby - the result of illegal sand mining. Because Angolan nationals can freely cross the river, some of the men may have been Angolans.

A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained the nature of the business.

“These men are present at the river from eight to five, just like official workers. This is what they do for a living.

“You just come with your bakkie here and they fill it up for you with sand. For a bakkie like yours they will charge about N$70, but because they are a lot, you can negotiate for N$50,” the resident said.

He said most Rundu residents who need building sand make use of this service.

“People who do not have bakkies are forced to buy from the guys with trucks, who get the sand from the river. They charge as much as N$600 per truck in town, after spending about N$150 to N$200 on the men at the river who fill it up,” the resident said.

He expressed concern over the environmental destruction.

“Years back this was an even landscape, but if you look at it now, it is destroyed. Something needs to be done.”

These activities are continuing although the environment ministry has halted all activities listed that require environmental clearance certificates in terms of the Environmental Management Act, including sand mining.

When contacted for comment, ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said they condemned any activity that destroys the environment. When asked who should control such activities, Muyunda said the ministry had a role to play, but with the involvement of various stakeholders such as local authorities, if these activities are happening within their jurisdiction.

KENYA KAMBOWE