Without jobs, several young people in New Mazwi have resorted to unregulated sand poaching for a living.
In the village of Mazwi, a peri-urban settlement adjacent to the old suburb of Pumula in Bulawayo, sand poaching is a favorite pastime and a source of income for unemployed youth in the community. Mazwi village is partly urban and rural, with the villagers dependent on boreholes and firewood. With a boom in housing construction, illegal sand poaching by unemployed youth is a lucrative business because there is a ready market.
This despite the fact that the vice leaves a lot of environmental risks and causes land degradation. Poachers also leave unclaimed pits that pose a danger to residents. According to concerned community members, the lack of empowerment projects and jobs leads young people to illegal sand poaching activities.
An environmental training session for 11 members of the environment committee was recently held in New Mazwi to enable the community to acquire knowledge about the conservation and enrichment of the environment.
Roy Ndlovu, who survives on sand poaching, says council and residents need to find a win-win solution to sand poaching activities. “It is not necessary for the sand miners and the rangers of the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to fight for sand. It is necessary to have a lasting solution between the residents, the council and the poachers, ”Ndlovu said.
BCC rangers are often seen in battles with sand poachers. “Running after each other in the forests is not a solution. There should be a solution to the problem because we all benefit from this sand. Each truck load earns between $ 80 and $ 100.
According to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), areas like Cowdray Park, Entumbane, Mpopoma, St Peters and Luveve are places where sand poaching is rampant. “The advice should not be arrogant. Our entire houses need this sand for construction. Let’s find a good strategy rather than playing hide and seek, ”adds Ndlovu.
Sinanzeni Mabaso, a member of the New Mazwi Village Development Committee, said the environment committee would go a long way in raising awareness against illegal sand poaching. “Our biggest challenge is the sand poaching that occurs in the area, because young people have no jobs. The pits are left open and we have lost some of our cattle in these pits, ”explains Mabaso.
In February, a 15-year-old boy from Pelandaba West drowned in the suburbs in an abandoned pit. The same hole claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl who drowned in December 2020.
“Young people have no other means to keep themselves busy and they engage in poaching to earn money. We welcome all supporters who might want to sponsor them to engage in activities that promote their livelihoods. Even if they get very little out of the projects, at least they will engage in legal activities, unlike sand poaching, ”adds Mabaso.
The new vice-chair of the Mazwi Development Committee, Judith Ndlovu, said: “The formation of the committee will allow us to learn how to profit economically from the environment.
BCC recently declared war on poachers, impounding their trucks and arresting the culprits. The local authority says poachers are also stealing sand for the ongoing road rehabilitation program and causing severe land degradation.
Ward 17 Councilor Sikhululekile Moyo, speaking at a residents’ meeting recently, said the problem of sand poaching has gotten out of hand in her neighborhood, which includes the New Mazwi area. She says widespread sand poaching is accelerating the rate of soil erosion in the region and can further damage infrastructure.
“We recently had a meeting with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and other stakeholders to try and resolve the sand poaching issue here, and we still have a long way to go to address this. challenge, ”she said.
Source: The Citizen Bulletin