Environment Minister to adjudicate on Iiheke Ya Nakele sand mining dispute

24 Feb 2019 13:10pm
UUKWANGULA, 24 FEB (NAMPA) – Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta is set to adjudicate on the appeal of the Iiheke Ya Nakele Community Committee (INCC) for an environmental clearance certificate granted for sand mining in the area to be suspended.
This followed a public hearing on the INCC appeal held at Uukwangula here on Friday, when the said committee demanded for the certificate to be suspended immediately.
Shifeta presided over Friday’s hearing, where INCC representative, Lukas Nantanga strongly argued that the certificate was issued to sand miners on 11 December last year without the consent of the affected communities.
According to Nantanga, the Uukwambi Traditional Authority (UTA) obtained the certificate from the Office of the Environment Commissioner without consulting the affected communities and as such, Shifeta should suspend the certificate until proper consultations on the matter are done.
Ekamba, Onenongo and Oshuulo are the affected communities.
Nantanga noted that the UTA and members of the affected community have equal right to decide whether extracting of sand at the disputed land for commercial purposes should continue or not.
He said the Environment Management Act 7 of 2007 requires that affected communities are consulted to give written consent and recommendations before any sand mining could take place in their area.
The same Act, Nantanga said, also requires the provision of a list of the names of community representatives who attended consultative meetings, to ensure all key stakeholders (including regional councils and line ministries) were indeed consulted and agreed for the mining to happen.
“In the absence of concrete evidence that the affected communities were consulted and gave their consent, we demand the certificate to be suspended until further notice,” said Nantanga.
In his presentation UTA representative, Reinhold Iita adamantly told Friday’s hearing that affected communities were consulted and that some of them already received the benefits derived from the sand mining.
Iita singled out the establishment of a kindergarten, opening of trust funds and electricity supplies to the needy communities under the UTA jurisdiction as the benefits in question.
However, Iita could not provide concrete evidence as to when and where UTA held consultative meetings with the affected community, as meeting dates on the documents he handed in at the hearing did not correspond with the dates he alluded to in his presentation.
Iita at the same time narrated that UTA obtained the certificate only on the barrow pits, where extracting of sand started in the 1970s, and therefore, “no need to consult the community”.
Shifeta now awaits the submission of final arguments from the INCC and UTA to reach his office by Thursday for him to adjudicate on the matter, while his adjudication is anticipated in two-weeks’ time after the submission of petitions.
Onanime is another community accusing UTA of allowing sand mining to take place in the area without consent obtained from the community members.