Sand dealers brace for strict rules as MCA introduces bill to regulate trade

Loisukut harvesting site in Makurian group ranch where sand harvesters have exhausted sand mining to rock-level leading to destruction of water holding areas. [Jacinta Mutura/Standard]
Sand dealers who are caught operating without permits could face hefty fines or be sent to prison.

A raft of proposed regulations on sand harvesting and quarrying are calling for traders in the commodity who fail to acquire licenses to be fined up to Sh1 million or be jailed for five years.

The Bill by Nominated MCA Peter Matunge aims at restricting the operations of unlicensed and unaudited sand dealers who have been operating in an unregulated environment due to lack of clear guidelines on harvesting activities.

“We have conducted public participation across the county and we might consider more engagement forums before the Bill is tabled for the Second Reading in the assembly. There are leaders misguiding communities on the Bill’s provisions and we want to enlighten them more since it is for their own benefit,” said Mr Matunge.

The MCA said the proposed law was intended to create an institutional framework to manage and regulate the lucrative sand business in Laikipia.

The authorities have long decried what they describe as lawlessness in the lucrative business, saying the county government has lost millions of shillings in revenue as harvesting sites continue to be destroyed.

Audit reports

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To further streamline operations, every ranch will be required to be registered and to have an operational bank account that will be audited by the Government and regular reports submitted to the communities.

“The officials are always reluctant to account for the money earned because there have never been laws compelling them to do so. We are hopeful that the new Bill will finally address all the contentious issues,” said Francis Mepukori, a member of Makurian Group Ranch.

If the county assembly approves the proposed law, which is before the Water and Natural Resources Committee, the seven group ranches that trade in sand will be compelled to form associations, which will operate under the guidance of an umbrella county management committee.

The associations will be accountable to the communities and they will have to be submitting financial reports in annual general meetings.

The legislation will also compel the county government to invest a certain percentage of revenue earned from the sand trade to community development projects.

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