Sand-Mining in Groot-Aub shut down 


SAND-MINING operator, Ruben Khoeseb, has accused the City of Windhoek of unfair treatment after his sand mining operation within the boundaries of Windhoek on the banks of the Usib River was shut down, on two occasions, by City Police, with imminent threats of arrest if he continued sand-mining without the city’s approval.

Khoeseb, who received a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (the custodian of rivers in Namibia), five years ago, said his fifteen employees, who relied on him for an income, are now without jobs, due to the inconsiderate manner in which the city deals with the approval of sand-mining permits.

“I have spent a considerable amount of money on surveying services as well as environmental clearance certificates for my operation, however, since the boundaries of Windhoek were extended to include the settlement of Groot-Aub, my operations are now in limbo since the city is not forth- coming with the issuance of permits for sand-mining operators,” Khoeseb informed Confidente.

City spokesperson, Harold Akwenye said due to past mining activities at Groot-Aub and surrounding areas, some sections of the Usib river have become significantly degraded due to past mining activities.

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“In Groot-Aub, some areas remain abandoned, or un-rehabilitated, making it difficult to track those

responsible for adverse environmental risks associated with past mining activities,” the city spokesman said.

“From a regulatory perspective, all rights relating to the operation of sand and gravel quarries primarily rest with the City of Windhoek (CoW), the city may however opt
to devolve such rights (resource access) to legal or natural persons on both private and council land in order for them to utilize the resource for the economic advancement in the city subject to conditions CoW may prescribe,” the city spokesman explained.

Khoeseb took issue with the different approach the city uses when permitting sand miners to carry out activities alluding to special treatment afforded to white business people in this regard.
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According to him there are well- known white owned companies who mine sand on the same river for supply to the construction industry but their operations are not affected whereas his are and he feels it has to do with the colour of his skin.

“When it comes to environmental concerns, it is the same river, but there seems to be a distinction
made between state land and private land, off course the whites from the previously advantaged franchise can sand-mine on their private farms but what about those of us from the previously disadvantaged group who want to partake in the economy of our country, why can we not sand- mine on the same river,” Khoeseb questioned.

Akwenye informed Confidente Harold Akwenye that sand mining rights are conferred without favor and with due consideration given to environmental sustainability and the protection of underground water sources including the Windhoek aquifer.

“Khoeseb is a historic operator and his application is one of many applications currently placed under extensive internal review of which he was informed.

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Such review often requires sufficient time as the application process requires extensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders,” Akwenye said.

“In an effort to promote the sustainable supply of the natural resource, the CoW has no choice but to exercise caution with the granting of approval relating to sand and gravel extraction in the city,” Akwenye added.

For more on this story and others: Grab a copy of this week’s Confidente Newspaper.
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