Monitoring sand trade, collecting billions more useful than banning

09Jul 2022
The Guardian
Monitoring sand trade, collecting billions more useful than banning

FOOD for thought is being provided by the Zanzibar authorities to their Union government colleagues without needing to exchange notes on the issue, on the basis of reports that Zanzibar has collected 3.56bn/-in levies following installation of CCTV cameras on sand quarrying spots.

The blueprint for this activity is to monitor non-renewable resources, with the 3.56bn/- levies collected in three months from April to June. In June alone more than 1.5bn/- was collected, as traders can no longer cheat on harvests.


A permanent secretary was lately explaining that the levies were collected from sales of non-renewable resources like sand, rubble, rocks, gravel and dust.

There is plenty of that for instance in the city of Dar es Salaam, but for nearly two decades trade in that sphere is patchy at the most, as areas where the resources are plentiful are out of reach, as activists defined sand or gravel harvesting as environmentally harmful.

One result is gradual siltation at the Msimbazi Valley, with a multimillion dollar bridge now slated, for the simple reason that harvesting sand is taboo unless there is shift in vision from environmental bodies.


This problem is so extensive that in the past decade a problem arose as to how gold mining firms close down activities in this or that mine, with environmental organisations coming up with the shrewd idea that the firms replace the sand to virtually a flat situation, more or less as it was at the start. Some critics wondered if those vast ‘holes’ as some professionals call the mining pits need to be refilled with sand or soil, or water could as well do.

What of converting them into fish multiplication cornucopia, keeping out predator fish which ruin Lake Victoria fisheries?  What of a cattle ranch with this as a vast water point?


The Zanzibar authorities weren’t worried about environmental destruction by harvesting sand but using up such natural resources, classified as non-renewable, without the government obtaining appreciable revenue on this activity.

So they moved to take measures to set up a monitoring device on exploitation of sand, gravel etc and collected substantial revenues just in the past three months, from April to June. 

Supervisors can easily identify the truck collecting resources from a certain point, its entire movement as it enters a quarry, the consignment it carries, its capacity and where it is heading to, during day or night.


This way supervisors and higher authorities can monitor the amount of revenue paid if a person remits it to a bank, as nothing can be falsified after a CCTV camera records all preliminary details.

Instead of building massive bridges to keep sand in place, we would be building other bridges elsewhere, or power supply lines, using the revenue collected from harvesting sand, if it is properly supervised.

Needless to add, the ministry expects to collect substantial revenue for the time being until the wealth of such material at a particular spot is significantly reduced, while in the city and elsewhere these resources simply lie idle.








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