CITY of Harare has lost vast acres of land to sand poachers owing to high rise in property development costing the country a substantial amount of money to rehabilitate the land.
Speaking to Mining Index, Environmental Management Authority (EMA) Director for Environmental Management Services Steady Kangata confirmed the developments saying 314 hectares of land in the capital city has been lost to illegal sand miners.
‘I can confirm that it’s actually 314 hectares of land,’ he said.
While sand mining has become big business in Harare and surrounding places due to infrastructural development which has seen sprouting of new residential suburbs, the demand for pit and river sand continue to grow.
Pit and river sand is used for brick moulding and making mortar needed to make concrete.
Sand poachers, mostly unlicensed small-scale operators are prevalent in 14 hot-spots areas that include peri-urban areas like Chitungwiza, Epworth, Mt Hampden, Waterfalls Retreat and Hopley.
Kangata further lamented that the illegal activities by sand poachers bear a huge cost towards land rehabilitation.
‘The annual cost of land degradation is 382 million. In the long run, the cost of land rehabilitation is paid for by our children. On a national scale, if we evaluate the land, we would have lost.’
‘As EMA, in the wisdom of the legislation, we have an Statutory Instrument which made it mandatory for those engaging in soil extraction for commercial purposes to be registered.
Zimbabwean law is clear that no-one is allowed to extract sand without a licence. An operating licence must be applied for and obtained from EMA to mine sand at designated areas.
Part of the Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Ecosystem protection reads, “No person shall excavate, remove, possess or licence the removal of clay or sand deposit for commercial purposes without a licence by the Agency.”
City of Harare spokesperson Michael Chideme confirmed that there are designated sites in Harare for sand mining, although he could not immediately disclose the areas.
Adverse effects to the environmental have been noted in areas where sand poaching is prevalent, creating unsightly craters and gullies of deep pools exposing people to risk of drowning and death during the rainy season.
It is important to educate communities to practice land rehabilitation to guard against land degradation, protecting the environment.
Kangata however encouraged people not to buy sand from unregistered dealers. ENDS//