Illegal sand mining, quarry scavenging threaten environment

The noisy and old Dakota truck slowly moves in the grimy and cavern roads of Budiriro suburb. The 7 tonne oversized truck which is not fit for the road is heavily loaded with pit sand.

Eight young men comfortably rest at the back of the truck. They excitedly wait to offload the pit sand at the local shops, where buyers come to purchases the valuable construction materials.

The Mutonhonzi family-owned truck is one of the many trucks which are used to poach sand in the banks of Mukuvisi River.

Quarry stone, pit sand and river sand are commonly used by construction companies and individuals for brick-molding and other building purposes.

In an interview with 263Chat, Alfred Mutonhonzi said on a good day, an individual can make up to $10, which he said, is good enough to take care of their family needs.

“15-cubic-metre load of either pit sand river sand or quarry stones goes for $60. One cubic metre is equivalent to 12 wheelbarrow loads,” said Mutonhonzi.

As the economy continues to take a nose dive, multitudes of people have been forced to turn to illegal practices for survival.  Sand pouching appears to be an occupation that anyone who can use power appears to be taking up.

Many desperate Zimbabweans who are surviving from anything that bring food on the table are knowingly damaging the environment and are not apologetic about it.

“There is nothing we can do about this, we are aware that we are causing land degradation but we are caught in between the need to fend for our families and the need to protect the environment,” said Allan Tapera.

The 2012 United Nations and Zimbabwean Government report on Millennium Development goal notes  the unavailability of an environmental policy and legislation as a threat to the environment.

“The major challenge for the government in terms of ensuring environmental sustainability is the effective and timely implementation of environmental policy   and legislation,” reads the report.


Environmental Management Agency Spokesperson Steady Kangata, castigated illegal sand poachers.

“These people are major drivers of land degradation and they are one of the major reasons why we have so many gullies in areas like Waterfalls and Dzivarasekwa,” said Kangata.

He also said that persistent sand pouching will lead to the exploitation of the country’s precious resources.

Environmental Management Agency allows people to mine sand and quarry stones but only to registered dealers.

“If one wants to carry out such work they should be licensed under EMA,” he said.

The $5,000 penalty for illegal sand mining has not scared off miners who have opted to poach sand and quarry in the evening.

Katanga, pleaded with the members of the public to purchase sand and quarry from registered dealers and also to report those who illegally mine sand to protect the environment for future generations.

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