THE Roads Authority (RA) will be spending N$29 million to rehabilitate the 119 borrow pits used in the past to build road in the Ohangwena Region because some of the old sand mines pose a danger to surrounding communities.
The project includes borrow pits from the border of Oshana to the east of Okongo and is expected to be completed within the next two years.
Roads Authority Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Conrad Lutombi, said that although some of the borrow pits were opened before Namibia gained independence, the situation was worsened by ongoing illegal sand mining.
Lutombi stated that there is a need to clean and level many of the borrow pits for the sake of the safety of the community and ensuring that the environment is sustained.
“The rehabilitation priority of the borrow pits will depend on the level in which they are. Where category one and two are not an immediate threat to communities and three and four holds imminent threat for surrounding communities,” he said.
Lutombi noted that RA will focus first in the Ohangwena Region, before branch out to other regions.
He explained that RA will also embark on a one month campaign to educate people not to mine sand across the country.
Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, said sand is a natural resources and for everyone, but the ministry is faced with a challenge of sand mining which is causing damage to the environment.
Shifeta explained that sand mining is not unlawful, but agreements must be in place with the community that are residing in the area as land by law belong to them.
Shifeta called on traditional leaders to start involving community members in discussions and negotiations with regard to sand mining as communities must benefit from the industry.
“It does not mean that headmen own any land and should do whatever they want, that is why many of the contractors are stopped and we as the ministry unable to do anything,” Shifeta concluded.