Uukwambi TA in dispute over ‘illegal’ sand mining

16 May 2018 20:30pm
UUKWANGULA, 16 MAY (NAMPA) – The Uukwambi Traditional Authority Council under Chief Herman Iipumbu, said claims that the villagers of Onenongo and Ekamba were never consulted on sand mining activities taking place in their area, do not hold water.
UTA councillors on Wednesday held a press conference at their office based at the Uukwangula settlement, to deny that it authorised sand mining at a borrow pit in the area of the two villages without the consent of the inhabitants.
Disgruntled villagers at a meeting two weeks ago accused Iipumbu and his council of making millions of dollars in the sand mining operations without it benefiting the residents there.
The villagers at the same time described the sand mining activities as “illegal” and not in consideration of the Environmental Management Act of 2007, which requires all Government institutions, companies, other organisations and individuals to apply the principles outlined in the Act.
This means people who want to mine sand, must be in possession of an environmental clearance certificate, issued after an environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been completed successfully.
The Act stipulates that for an EIA to be successful, the majority of the affected community must not object to the proposal, otherwise the Environmental Commissioner will not issue a clearance certificate.
The UTA council told the media conference that the barrow pit in question came to existence in 1978, before the enactment of the Environmental Management Act No. 7 of 2007.
“UTA has no objection to the borrow pit to comply with the Act requirements,” the UTA council replied.
Iipumbu at the same conference said the UTA is administering the land under its jurisdiction as per mandate given to it by the Traditional Authorities Act 25 of 2000.
He added that the same laws empower the Uukwambi Traditional Authority to allocate or cancel any customary land rights in respects of any portion of land in the communal area of its traditional community and does not require the UTA to consult the villagers/subjects on any matter related to the administration of communal land.
The villagers alleged that these companies mining at the pit pay as little as N.dollars 300 per load to local traditional leaders and sell it for as much as N.dollars 1 500 or more to developers and contractors in urban areas.
The villagers threatened to take legal action if the UTA continues to allow what the sand mining in their area, while Iipumbu and his council indicated that they welcome the community’s decision “with open arms” and that it will equally defend its position in a court of law.