By AMANDA MAVHAZA, Acting News Editor
Sand poachers are on the increase in urban areas as cities continue to grow but they are leaving a track of environmental degradation that poses a great hazard to communities.
As such, an environmental expert Ernest Mando has urged the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and other authorities to severely punish sand poachers with heavy penalties to those who are found illegally mining sand.
In an interview with ZiMining, Mando said EMA should be hard on sand miners.
He said it was high time the environment authority scale up efforts to engage more people and improve advocacy in dealing with illegal sand poaching in urban areas
“Many poachers have basically gone unpunished over the years as some of them operate using unregistered vehicles which in most cases are not road worthy and they drive them drive them at night without headlights contributing to road accidents.”
He said heavy fines and even custodial sentence should be imposed on flouters.
Mando said the trail of destruction on environment will not be reparable.
“Sand miners leave open gullies causing children that who live around to fall into those gullies and also these gullies are breeding grounds for mosquitoes increasing Malaria in some areas.”
He also said the sand poachers are very ignorant and they just mine anywhere they find suiting without caring about who owns the land they will extracting.
Sand poaching cause soil erosion as they extract sand from riverbanks causing siltation and sand mining affects the environment with increase in land degradation.
Based on the EMA regulations anyone who wants to engage in commercial sand extraction in Zimbabwe should has to obtain an operational license, without this it is a criminal offense to extract sand or gravel.