Anambra Community Seeks Govt Intervention Over Illegal Sand Excavation

People of Uhuala Village in Isulo Community, Orumba South Council Area of Anambra State are calling on the state government to intervene and end the illegal sand excavation going on in the area threatening their homes.

TNC Correspondent who visited the site of illegal sand excavation which sits on over 20 plots of land owned by individuals, saw youths excavating sand and loading it onto tipper trucks.

A one-storey building and two other buildings are presently under threat of collapsing as a result of the illegal activity, which is now less than 5 metres away from the buildings.

A major gully has also started developing on the other side of the illegal excavation site, with economic trees such as palm trees, caving into the gully.

According to the Chairman of Uhuala village, Comrade Innocent Ughasor, the challenge started in 2019 when some members of the community started illegal excavation on the land and because of the leadership tussle in the community, the problem was compounded.

He revealed that several efforts to stop the illegal sand miners have proved abortive, even when the community had to write the tipper drivers association to warn their members to desist from the illegal activity.

“We have decided to call the government into this matter because they are doing this because we can’t do anything.
“The damage staring us in the face as a result of this illegal sand excavation is enormous.

“Our people are crying that they are at serious risk as you can see.

“We already have one major erosion site here and we are doing this because we don’t want this to develop to a full blown erosion.

“We are appealing to the government to come in and save us from these illegal miners because we can’t do this alone,” he pleaded.

Another member of the village, Oliver Maduafor recalled how they had met and agreed with the owners of the land to submit the plan of the development they intend to do on the parcel of land and how they want to salvage the threat on nearby structures.

He regretted that the owners of the land never presented the plan, instead, they continued excavating, putting residential buildings in the area at great risk.

“About four months ago, we agreed with the landowners that they show us the design of whatever they want to do here, we look into it and invite the Ministry of Environment to analyse the plan, but they refused.

“We want the government to use its good office to stop further excavation here until they provide the design of whatever they want to do,” he said.

One of the persons excavating sand on the site, who our correspondent met, said he pays to the owner of the land, adding that although the excavation is not good, it is the owner of the land that will determine.

Earlier on Thursday, a team of Geologists from the State Ministry of Environment had on the appeal of the community, visited the site for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

The leader of the team, Paschal Okafor acknowledged that the excavation on the land was illegal, saying they have issued an order to stop further excavation on the site, pending when the owners come to the Ministry for discussion.

“We received a complaint letter from the community on this illegal excavation and that is why we came.
“We have observed that the illegal excavation, if not checked, will cause serious havoc here.

“We have directed that further excavation be stopped on this site.
“The Ministry has also directed that they come back and remediate the damage they have done here through their illegal activity,” he said.

Okafor noted that the Ministry has enumerated all excavation sites in Anambra, but regretted that many still do excavation without authorization, one of which is the Uhuala site.

He revealed that Anambra is presently faced with over 1000 active erosion sites, noting that the idea behind the enumeration, is to ensure that environmental impact assessment is carried out before any excavation is done, so as to minimize the rate at which erosion develops.

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