State must stop illegal sand harvesting

The national government should urgently intervene to stop the perennial illegal sand harvesting in the larger Ukambani region.

Many lives have been lost, property destroyed and livelihoods destroyed as rival groups fight over the lucrative but fatal activity.
Hundreds of residents have also been dispossessed of their land even as rivers have been damaged.

The haphazard sand harvesting along many of the region’s river beds have led to drying up, damaging the ecosystem.

Farmers are left with no profitable ventures even as the illegal trade lures youths from school to make the quick-easy cash. This has also led to an increase in casual sex and rape cases among the youth.

According to a special report carried elsewhere in this newspaper, there have been numerous violent conflicts over illegal sand harvesting, especially in Makueni County, where local leaders and administrators appear unable to enforce proper policies, and the police have been accused of complicity.

The national and county governments in consultation with locals must lead the search for a lasting solution. Relevant state agencies such as Nema must also provide sober and informed guidance on the sand harvesting activities.

This should include an environmental assessment to determine the impact sand harvesting has on the area and the possible mitigation measures.

Already, several NGOs are on the ground helping reclaim lands destroyed by the haphazard sand harvesting. Their activities should be complimented with government’s commitment and punitive action on those flouting the laid down regulations. Failure to act now could mean untold environmental disaster in Ukambani in the not-so-distant future.

Related Topics

sand harvesting