Stakeholders in Nigeria’s mining industry have decried the spate of illegal sand mining in the country, stressing the need for government to strengthen the synergy between relevant institutions dealing with natural resources to coordinate awareness, monitor, and regulate activities within the sector.
According to them, many operators, who are meant to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), in addition to obtaining various forms of licences before they start their operations, do not them.
They said while truck drivers, payloaders, excavator operators and many other service providers in the sand mining value chain smile to the bank, residents of the areas and other businesses being wallow in environmental degradation.
Speaking at the yearly workshop of West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo) in Lagos, External Relations Manager, WAPCo, Koffi Mensah, argued that illegal sand mining has remained a major threat to gas pipelines, which cuts across four countries in West Africa – Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana.
“We have over the years battled these illegal sand miners, informing them of the dangers because of the gas pipeline Righ of Way (ROW), specifically around Ota, Igbesa and Pako Beach in Lagos State.
“If decisive actions are not taken now, the host communities risk a major disaster that could cut across borders. So, it’s important we work out a synergy between various relevant institutions, including traditional rulers on how to stem the tide before it’s too late,” Mensa added.
He advised that as a matter of urgency, government agencies responsible for issuing mining licenses must ensure the Right of Way of gas pipelines are delineated on all documents pertaining to license for mining activities as well as a the need for universal surveys for all the lands.
Onitetiku of Owode Ota, Oba Ogungbayi Akanni Wasiu, said most of the traditional rulers are not being carried along in the activities relating to sand mining under their jurisdiction.
Wasiu said: “Most of us are not consulted especially in my own area and we have many people around our area carrying out this illegal mining. We also observed that some people will collect license for area A and use it in Area B, which creates a problem.”
He urged law enforcement agencies, WAPCO and government to ensure that there is enabling law that will straighten all the issues for peace and tranquillity to reign in concerned areas.
Reacting to the claims that traditional rulers aid illegal miners, he said: “I don’t agree with that, it is not correct at all. It is when we are aware that we can connive with them but we are not even aware talking less of being carried along. It is an insinuation, it is not correct. It is condemnable. We are the custodian of tradition and culture; we must protect the lives and properties, so why should we do otherwise.
Federal Mines Officer, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Omosebi Mayowa, explained that the Ministry is actually working assiduously at ensuring that due process is followed in mining licence.
Mayowa, who represented the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said it is important for all stakeholders to look inwards in finding solutions to the activities of these illegal miners, noting that traditional rulers also have a key role to play because they are closer to the people.