09 Nov 2016 18:00pm
WALVIS BAY, 09 NOV (NAMPA) - Sea workers affiliated to the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) Wednesday expressed their disapproval of marine phosphate mining in Namibia.
The group of about 20 marched from Kuisebmund in Walvis Bay to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in town.
Environmental Commissioner, Teofilus Nghitila issued a clearance certificate to Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) on 05 September 2016 - a decision that set ablaze the public and environmentalists outcry against the mining of phosphate off the Namibian coast, despite Cabinet having issued a moratorium on the matter for a pending environmental impact assessment.
Phosphate mining is criticised for a possibly negative impact on the marine ecosystem should it be allowed without concrete facts based on scientific research.
Leading the workers, Nafau Secretary-General Jacob Penda read the petition and said the aim is to give workers voice to this controversial matter.
Penda indicated that the fishing industry employs more than 18 000 and has 20 000 shareholders, thus if anything bad happens to natural resources especially fish, many jobs will be lost.
Our concern as workers is that we will lose these natural resources forever and our economy as well as coastal towns and Namibia at large will collapse.
He said marine phosphate mining will not employ the number of people employed by the fishing industry.
Information presented by NMP indicates that they will only employ 1 500, most of which are technological experts who will come from abroad. This project will not benefit the majority of Namibians thus it should not take place.
While Nafau was delivering the petition, a group of about 10 individuals labeling themselves as a a pro-marine phosphate mining movement showed up to give their views too.
They however did not have a prepared speech and did not make an appointment with the ministry.
The group is led by Gabriel Iimbili, Sebastian Nehale and Leonard Simson.
They say the controversial development should continue as to create jobs in Namibia but only after proper research.
We want marine phosphate mining to take place because it provides jobs. It should not be stopped, instead proper research should be done so that we have proof it is dangerous or not, Imbili told reporters.
He also mentioned they have bosses who sent them to the Nafau demonstration but he refused to reveal their names.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, earlier this month set aside the certificate granted by Nghitila.
This is to allow further public consultation on the matter and also to give time for the fisheries Ministry to conduct an independent study on phosphate mining.
This is expected to be done within the next six months and only then government can announce the final decision on whether the project will go forward or not.