‘Control sand mining, reclaim land from sea’

18Mar 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
‘Control sand mining, reclaim land from sea’

ZANZIBAR President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has called on Isles leaders to enforce land laws to save the islands from catastrophic environmental degradation due to uncontrolled human activities.

ZANZIBAR President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein.

Dr Shein made the call over the weekend when speaking at the official opening of one-day seminar on natural resources management, which involved different leaders from across the Indian Ocean archipelago.

He said that during a recent tour of Unguja and Pemba, he discovered that land laws are not observed and there are leaders who act contrary to the laws.

Dr Shein said that this has contributed to more intense environmental degradation particularly in areas featuring sand mining. The sand resource is in shortage in the Isles due to uncontrolled mining, he declared.

The Zanzibar leader cited Unguja Island as a highly affected area with shortage of sand as compared to Pemba Island. Affected areas in Unguja include Donge Chechele, Pangatupu and Kiombamvua.

President Shein expressed concern that there are people encroaching into farm land in search of sand, putting food security in a dilemma.

“It is high time people observe the law as sand needs to be extracted to a certain depth and not as people do right now. The law is very clear that after mining sand, the pits need to be planted trees as one way of restoring degraded areas,” he said.

But, to his surprise the sand mined areas have remained bare and no trees planted as the law demands.

Statistics show that there are 915 lorries in Unguja and Pemba, which are tied to transporting sand,, with the capacity of carrying 30 tonnes at once.

“This number is too big and it also has an impact on our road infrastructures. That’s why this seminar is called to address these challenges for the well-being of our people,” the Isles leader intoned.

He suggested the need for Zanzibar leaders to come up with approaches that would help to address land and environmental issues for the benefit of current and future generations.

He however said that his government plans to venture into land reclamation projects to increase land for various needs.

With an area of 2,461 km², Zanzibar is made up of two main Islands of Unguja and Pemba, located about 45Km off the coast of Mainland Tanzania.

Without divulging the amount of money that would be spent in the proposed land reclamation projects, the Isles leader said that the move is in line with increasing pressure on land due to higher population, which currently stands at 1.3million people as per 2012 population census.

He cited cases where a number of island countries have benefited from land reclamation, like Singapore, creating new land from the sea.

Singapore had expanded its land size by 25 percent for the past 200 years, while other countries which expanded their land through reclamation are the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We want to follow those examples, so that we also benefit by increasing the size of land,” he said, describing land reclamation as a viable option.

There are private enterprises which have tried to expand the land size and managed to put up socio-economic activities, he said.

“That’s why we see land reclamation as possible in Zanzibar,” he added, preferring the public-private partnership (PPP) approach in such efforts.