Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent
Government has set up a taskforce on illegal sand and quarry poaching, as it intensifies efforts to end the unlawful activities that have degraded several hectares of land in Harare Metropolitan province.
The taskforce, made up of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, provincial Environmental Management Agency (EMA), provincial police and local authorities, will arrest sand poachers and remove illegal selling points.
Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Tafadzwa Muguti said he was aware of what was happening with the sand barons.
“What we have done now is to set up a provincial taskforce to deal with illegal miners which consists of the provincial EMA office and the provincial ZRP,” he said.
“We have also included the Ministry of Mines to come in because it is not only sand poaching, there is also quarry poaching where people are also going for granite rocks. The Ministry of Mines is the only authority which gives us mining permits, but they do not issue any mining permits without an environmental plan which is certified by EMA.
“In this respect, all the people who are doing sand poaching are not recognized by EMA, neither are they recognized by the Ministry of Mines. It is also important to know that the Ministry of Mines has not classified sand as something that is mined, as a result it becomes an EMA issue.”
Mr Muguti said they were going to close down all the markets that are illegally selling bricks and sand quarries.
“So we have set up a taskforce which also includes local authorities and we had meetings in Epworth, Ruwa, Chitungwiza and Harare,” he said. “We are going after them. I think you have seen the trucks coming in to confiscate the bricks and so forth.
“We are going to close down the markets. We do not want people selling bricks and sand along the highways as what was happening.
“If we close down that market, we are also going for the source. We do not want people illegally taking sand. If you feel that you want to go into brick manufacturing, firstly you register a company, secondly, you approach EMA, thirdly you approach the local authority and the environmental department and together with EMA they agree if the area you want to do brick moulding is sustainable. You also then get a business permit, register with NSSA and ZIMRA.”
Mr Muguti said after having the requisite documents, a person can now apply for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which compels the restoration of land into its original use.
“There are some people who are taking sand on football fields and people’s private properties and that level of disorder has to stop,” he said. “I can warn those that are going against the government and against the law that we will confiscate their equipment.
“We have already confiscated thousands of bricks and hundreds of thousands of sand and quarry stones just in the last week and we will continue doing that. We have operations running 24 hours a day just to make sure that we bring sanity.”