Environmental experts call for punitive measures on sand poachers

By John Nhandara

DETERRENT and punitive measures have been cited as the permanent solution to land degradation at a time when sand poachers and illegal miners have become a menace around the country.

The reemergence of open pits in peri-urban areas as a result of illegal sand abstraction is a wake-up call on the need to institute deterrent and punitive measures.

With the illegal activities having far reaching effects of increasing the countries’ vulnerability to climate change, environmental experts are of the view that, there is need to intensify implementation of statutory instruments under the Environmental Management Act.

Environmentalist and Resilience Expert Mr Rodrick Moyo says the law is unequivocal on illegal sand mining and other activities that cause land degradation.

Sand poaching is a crime through Statutory Instrument 3 of 2001.It is further outlawed through Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 under the Environmental Management Act. Using these legal provisions, tickets have been issued to those who source or sell sand illegally.

“The main challenge is enforcement of these legal provisions because we have seen conflict between poachers and law enforcers. We have seen offenders choosing to commit . I agree with EMA which at some time was advocating for restoration penalties rather than paying fines,” he said.

Another envinronmentalist, Mr Tapuwa Nhachi underscored the need to fully resource the fight against land degradation.

There is need for investment in both equipment and human resources to fight the crime so local authorities must put in place financial budgets specifically for that,” he noted.

An all-stakeholder approach between law enforcement agencies and local authorities has also been cited as key in curbing land degradation.