and frequently causes environmental damage to other coastal ecosystems associated with the beach such as wetlands.
Another major impact of beach sand mining is the loss of protection from storms surges associated with tropical cyclones and tsunamis. Sometimes it is difficult to tell that a beach has been mined. Sand extraction becomes difficult to recognise as the beach readjusts to a new profile after a few storms. Mining is particularly senseless in a time of rising sea level when sand is sorely needed as a storm energy buffer.
I remember when I was a little boy we shifted from a certain vicinity to another which is the home where I grew up. I made a lot of friends and most of the necessary things for the survival of a boy like me were available, but only a football pitch was having less space due to a big hole surrounding the vicinity open space.
As a matter of fact I used to wonder why the big hole that was near my beautiful home occurred. Before we moved in, a local government banned the sand mining that was mushrooming in the neighbourhood and stressing the environment. Unfortunately few metres from my home bared sand which was favourable and was demanded by constructors.
Due to Poor supervision and negligence of all people living around the vicinity, plus local government authority the residential land was turned into a mining pit. By estimating the coverage of the enormous hole, I am confident to say that tonnes of sand was excavated from my neighbourhood and constructed homes for individuals whom I may never see in my life time.
And if miraculously I do will disseminate the detailed information how my family and I endured extreme environmental stress citing how worse it was when the hole left uncovered was turned into a landfill.
Sand can be referred to as loose fragmented materials which are occurring naturally, and have very tiny decomposed particles of rocks coral or shells. Globally sand is generally used for construction, providing bulk and strength to materials used in construction as asphalt for paving the land and tarmac, but also sand provides for concrete in building.
Basically sand was used during ancient era in 6000B.C to grind and polish stones to make sharpened tools and other tools used by then. The ingenious Egyptians came up with beads that were glass glazed in 3,500 B.C. From ancient era sand was a very useful natural resource; as the Nabataea Traders managed to lay small concrete and constructed rubble-wall houses which some exist till today.
Sand mining is carried out worldwide, it involves the extraction of sand mainly through an open pit, and even more shocking from beaches inland dunes and dredged from ocean beds as well as river beds. However, sand mining is also for extraction of minerals such as retile, limonite and zircon.
In Tanzania most of the sand that is extracted from the land, beaches and river beds is for construction purposes. Globally water is the most and the first resource that is consumed by the 7 billion population followed by sand. As of now in the United States of America sand markets stands on a billion dollar wealth entailing on the continuance of the sand mining threatening the future ecology.
Citing Tanzania which is the developing state is still in need of much sand to fulfill its long plans of reaching at the second world arena, as flyovers, extensive roads, skyscrapers, industries, schools, institutions, headquarters and the turning of villages to civilised areas need sand.
In India specifically Raipur village where sand mining is a war zone people get killed when they protest and protect their natural environment form money lusting sand mining.
Still in my country beaches are not plundered as much as in India but necessary environmental restoring measures are immediate places like Kawe, Ukwamani and Mbezi are likely to be environmental ground zero areas if necessary and strict measures are not employed by all of us. 100 houses have been swept away by rain as they were within the degraded land zone and the soil was eroded such that the foundation was seen.
Urbanisation in Dar es Salaam City is making the constructors to look for all possible ways to extract sand, in River Mbezi. Youth plunder the resource in daylight from the river bed to fill their trucks which earn them handsomely.
I managed to come across a good number of sand heaps around shabby areas of Mwananyamala, and Ubungo being sold to any one in need of it am quite sure that the seller didn’t go through reclamation procedures, when rains come ditches are all over.
In the past 20 years, areas like Mwananyamala were vegetative oriented with tall coconut trees with less degradation as of present where many youth plunder the resource for money. Some have even sold their lands for sand miners who benefit more than the owner.
Bagamoyo have been the sole site for many sand seekers in Kiharaka. Village lorries have been rushing in to queue and extract sand in unknown tonnes of their choice regardless of violating and defying several significant rules and laws both environmental and legal, then rushing back to the city to be sold to brick making companies which are mushrooming not in Dar es Salaam only but across the country.
Many people in need of normal living houses don’t produce bricks at their construction site in many regions now especially in the growing urban regions like Dar es Salaam, but instead they prefer the readymade. I made a small research and met a very experienced sand dealer who shared with me vital details. He told me readymade bricks are sold at 1500/- per brick.
He revealed that sand dealers usually pay 30,000/- as tax fee that is implemented by the local area leaders where sand is extracted per trip, and they also pay 30,000/- as payment to access the digging zone.
It usually takes a good number of strong young men whom are paid 20,000/- in a whole some and they split equally these land degrading activities are common in Chamazi and Mbagala.
Taking into account this fact we can trace how much sand is being plundered in areas where NEMC can’t conduct surveillance. There are administrative mechanisms laid to be followed when someone is need of extracting sand, the ministry of energy and minerals issues permits to individuals qualified to extract sand but such steps are merely followed seldom many don’t even know such proceedings.
Extensive approaches must be employed to dissemination education awareness on sand mining and the vital need to acquire a primary mining license to save our river beds and ocean shorelines from money lusting plunderers.
The ministry of energy and mineral should focus more on the sand mining surveillance around the chronic areas known for extraction of sand imposing high penalties and legal actions on the culprits to show the strictness on environmental conservation, while encouraging using quarry dust as a suitable substitute for river bed and ocean sands.
Numerous research have came up with significant results on the use of quarry dust concrete as it is believed to have high rate of workability and flexible, despite its weakness compared to sand content, but both can be mixed to produce a required concrete.
However, offshore sand can be extracted sustainably without posing danger to the coastline reducing pressure on rivers and oceans which possess favourable sand for construction. The most basic alternative that most rural areas can utilise well is the use of an old anthill which is dug up and used to bake bricks which apparently are much stronger and cheaper than sand made bricks.
Still Tanzania has a chance in saving its land from extreme degradation the focus should be on sustainability mechanisms on sand extraction for the future survival.
Padili James Mikomangwa is a third year student at the University of Dare S Salaam, specialises in Geography and Environmental Studies. He can be reached through +255 763635597 or E-mail:[email protected]