Posts tagged as: environment

Flurry of Activity as Deadline for Ban on Plastic Bags Nears

By Pauline Kairu

Are you ready to recycle the shopping bag you used the last time you went shopping?

You had better be, as retailers say they are set and ready to go when the polythene bags ban comes into effect on Monday.

Spot checks in the city on Monday and Tuesday revealed that many retail stores were still using polythene bags as they wait for Monday, the day set by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) for implementation of the ban.

STOCKS

Most have stopped supplying the all-too-familiar polythene bags branded with their logos.

Tuskys, Carrefour, and Game supermarkets are using plain white or black polythene bags while Choppies (previously Ukwala), Eastmatt and Naivas are still using the branded bags.

Tuskys and Choppies said they were clearing their stocks.

COST

The stores have been reminding shoppers that they will be required to bring their own bags for consecutive shopping trips to avoid incurring packaging costs every time they shop.

“Most of the retail stores are still using plastic bags based on the fact that they already had stock.

“But it has been agreed that by August 28, they will all transition,” Ms Wambui Mbarire, chief executive officer at Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak), said in a phone interview.

“We will have a whole range of alternatives, some costing as low as Sh3, as a cheap option at the till for those with no packaging material of their own.

“The whole purpose of this is to inculcate in Kenyans a culture of re-use and reduce,” she added.

RETAILERS

Nema gave the plastic ban notice on February 28, 2017, allowing a six-month grace period for all manufacturers and users of polythene bags to make necessary adjustments and comply by August 28.

Retailers were required to clear stocks within the grace period.

Come Monday next week, all retailers will have to declare their remaining stocks to the authority.

ECO-FRIENDLY

Exemptions apply to only selected consumer products, primary industrial packaging and waste paper bags, which are in accordance with approved standards.

Most retail stores said they had made plans for a smooth transition.

The samples the stores had as an alternative were of the semi-woven kind that is already in use at Nakumatt stores.

Nakumatt was the first to make the transition with alternatives for shoppers to either buy their branded blue label eco-friendly reusable-carry bags, at Sh50 and Sh75, or use the free smaller not very durable woven bag.

RE-USABLE

The Game Store at Garden City said it already has a woven bag, which has been approved by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

“We have had the re-usable woven bags all along, but Kenyans are not used to buying packing for their shopping. That is why we have been using polythene bags,” general manager Chris Steenkamp said.

“The plastic bags we have been giving out are cheap. That is why we can’t afford to give the alternative woven and more expensive ones for free,” he said.

“We’ll be selling them at Sh4 while the bigger, woven one will cost Sh20.”

PALM BASKETS

He said they were also looking at other options, including a polythene bag-like material that is bio-degradable and dissolves in hot water.

“It is still very expensive but we’re in talks with the seller.”

“He has promised that he will bring the price down,” he said, adding that these bags would be ideal for packaging fresh vegetables and wet items.

Chandarana-Food Plus at Two Rivers has already stocked papyrus and palm baskets that are retailing at Sh80.

It also has cotton bags for sale at Sh110.

AWARENESS

But like all other supermarkets (except Nakumatt), the store is still packaging shoppers’ items in polythene bags.

Himesh Kumar, the manager of the store, said they were clearing their stock before the ban comes into effect on Monday.

He said the extra cost is a good thing.

“It will encourage shoppers to return with the same bag each time they come shopping.

“The ban on polythene bags has been publicised enough. All Kenyans know about it. So there should be no excuses after August 28.”

BEHAVIOUR

He observed that men were the most averse to re-use of bags, and urged them to start putting shopping bags in the boots of their cars after shopping.

“We will offer to push the carts of shopping to their cars so that the attendants can pack the items in their baskets when they forget to bring them to the store.”

Zucchini stores also have woven bags that will cost Sh60.

They have asked their suppliers to change their packaging to either container or brown paper bags, according to Sissy Muranda, a supervisor at Garden City store.

CUSTOMERS

Clothes stores have also sought alternatives, with LC Waikiki saying it is preparing its remaining stocks for declaration to Nema.

Platform, another international clothes store, said it was sending back about six-months’ worth of bags to its Lebanon head office.

Small traders, too, are shifting to new packaging.

Fanice Waithira, a milk vendor in Pangani estate, Nairobi, is still using the small transparent bags to package milk but says customers will have to bring their own containers.

Traders at Retail Market (Marigiti), who mostly use recycled polythene bags, are urging their customers to carry their own shopping bags.

Small-Scale Mining – Tales From the Field

Photo: The Citizen

Men and women of various ages are busy, some going into ditches, and others crushing stones.

analysisBy Geofrey Kimani

It’s an hour’s drive from Katoro Town to Kihesa mining camp at Lwamgasa Village in Geita District.

Upon reaching the site, you are met with an environment that has almost been torn part. Hundreds of people are busy, a number of them in torn and dirty clothes.

A huge section of land has been cleared away. The mostly notable features are heaps of soil and open mouths of ditches.

The multitude here is seeking for only one thing–gold. Men and women of various ages are busy, some going into the ditches, others crushing stones that have already been collected and others moving here and there.

There are at least 2,000 artisanal miners who have invaded this area, according to village chairman Lumumba Salvatory.

He says the environment at Kihesa Camp is under a lot of stress due to the sudden surge of people starting from early July. Soil erosion, creation of sink holes, and loss of vegetation cover as miners need firewood for cooking and logs for getting into the mines.

Water sources are also in danger as both groundwater and surface water are threatned with contamination due to chemicals that miners use in separating gold from other impurities.

According to Mr Lumumba, River Kihesa, that over 20,000 people from the village depend on for their water needs has been contaminated, thus putting at risk lives of the villagers.

“For decades, this river has been the main source of water for villagers here. But, with the current development, people have turned to other sources, which are not safe,” he says. In a very short time, tree felling has more than tippled.

“Miners need logs to get into the holes they have dug out in search for gold. Some of these holes are about four to five metres deep. So, each hole needs a number of logs that they use as ladders,” he says.

According to the chairman, there are over 60 mining holes at the camp. Apart from using tree logs for making ladders, miners use the same materials to prevent the side walls from caving in. He says each hole needs at least 300 tree branches for the ladder and support pillars.

For his part, village environment chairman Zakayo Wankio says, at least 30 trees are felled everyday around Kihesa Camp.

“Unregulated gold mining is taking its toll here at the village. The environment is the biggest victim,” he says.

He argues that the mining activities bring in a little business to the local community, but the environmental loss is greater than the gains. “The water table is currently being affected, and with this rapid loss of vegetation cover, we could end up having less rains in this entire area,” he expresses his worries. .

According to him, even the water catchment zones have been invaded by the artisanal miners thus contaminating water while human activities in such points could lead to loss of water sources.

Lwamgasa Ward Councilor Joseph Saesembe says the area has a population of over 38,000 people and that over 20 per cent of the residents engage in mining activities at different mining camps.

He urges the government to work out a permit issuance system that will be used for artisanal miners, and it should give conditions that will ensure protection of the environment.

Mr Saesembe says that the government allocated the camps that were earlier operated by the East Africa Gold Mines jointly with the State Mining Cooperation (Stamico) to the residents.

He says, currently miners are supposed to pay between Sh150,000 and Sh300, 000 to land owners, which is non-refundable. “We came here (in the mining camps) after obtaining information that the area was rich in gold. Some are successful, some are not,” narrates Rashidi Ali, a resident of Sengerema who has been undertaking artisanal mining for nearly five years now.

He says they don’t have equipment to detect where the minerals are, but only use experience and guess work.

An official in Geita Region mineral department, Saidi Ali, notes that it is the duty of local authorities to control the environment and ensure that it is free from degradation activities. But he says that artisanal mining was more seasonal, and therefore sometimes difficult to control, particularly when resources are lacking.

Mining Process

After renting a plot, Saidi explains the hustle they go through to get a gold piece.

“Armed with a hoe, spade and the like, we start digging downwards until we reach a soft rock that we believe contains gold,” he says.

He notes that if they reach a whitish rock or soil before getting to the softer rock, it is a sign that there is no gold in that area. He says, on spotting a rock they think contains gold, they use hammers to break it into pieces. Then, they hire the services of a grinder, most of the time stationed in the vicinity.

Steve Gondu, 42, a resident of Bunda District explains that they wash the powder with water in a basin and sieve it to filter mercury from gold.

He says that after placing what has been sieved in different containers full of water, the powder is washed thoroughly so that the gold particles would remain in the water. “Gold always floats on water but sometimes some smaller particles may remain at the bottom. This is when we apply mercury to collect and raise all of it,” he says.

Gondu says that gold stone is measured in order to convert its weight into money.

“A point of gold is sold at Sh7,000. Ten points make a gram,” he says.

Locating gold buyers

“Sometimes customers wait for us until we find the mineral. Gold stones are not so hard. They are light and so can be easily carried. But, they can also be broken easily. This too is a sign that a particular rock carries gold,” he says.

He notes that it costs Sh2,000 to grind a small container full of rocks.

It is not always that a miner can get gold.

According to Gondu, on lucky days, a miner can make up to Sh1 million.

He says, they spend the money for sustainance and for sending back home where it is spent on school fees and other development plans.

Gondu says he has been using the proceeds from his mining activities to pay school fees for his three children and has built a house for his family.

He says, the activity is full of challenges. The main one being accessing water, especially when the same is located far from the mines.

“Sometimes the water boreholes we have dug do dry up and we are forced to fetch water from the neighboring sources,” he says.

Gondu says that water is highly needed to wash the rock powder to be able to secure gold.

Meanwhile, he says that they use water from the bore holes for drinking, bathing and other domestic purposes.

“Water from the boreholes is unsafe for human consumption many miners suffer from water borne diseases like dysentry and even cholera,” he says.

Maputo Kicks Out Tanzanian Poachers

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development announced here on Monday that 20 Tanzanian citizens will be deported for their involvement in poaching in northern Mozambique.

According to the ministry’s note, the Tanzanian illegal hunters were sentenced to three or four years in prison and fines of one million meticais (about $16,393) for killing endangered animals, mostly elephants and rhinos, in northern province of Niassa, which is bordered by Tanzania.

The decision to deport the citizens involved in the illegal hunting was motivated by the need to alleviate the overcrowded jail where there are too many transgressors who serve in their sentences.

“In order to implement the expulsion measure, the Niassa National Reserve in collaboration with the Border Guard Police and the Migration Services are creating the necessary logistical conditions for the monitoring of those sentenced on their way back to Tanzania,” reads the note.

Mozambique and Tanzania have been joining efforts to fight gun trafficking used by poachers and also the activity itself which this year killed around 295 rhinos.

In the same trial in which the 20 Tanzanians were tried, a Mozambican was also sentenced to four years in prison.

Mozambican natural reserves and parks are targeted by poachers, who slaughter rhinos and elephants for the extraction of ivory and horns mainly destined be sold in Asian markets. (Xinhua)

Tanzania

Why Number of Divorces Has Doubled

It is always the dream of most married couples to live happily together until death does them apart. Read more »

University of Rwanda to Graduate 8,000

By Frederic Byumvuhore

University of Rwanda will on Friday hold its second graduation since it was formed after a merger of seven public institutions of higher learning in 2013.

The graduation ceremony will be held at Amahoro Stadium in Remera, Kigali.

Prof. Nelson Ijumba, the deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs and research, told The New Times that there is an improvement in performance compared to last year, assuring that the graduands are relevant to the market.

“Since the merger, there has been tremendous improvement in quality of graduates. The university tries as much as possible to equip students with better skills,” Ijumba said.

“We care a lot about the quality of what we teach as well as research we conduct to ensure we produce the best graduates we can offer.”

Those to graduate include those with bachelor’s degree in various disciplines, masters and two doctorate degrees including one from the College of Business and Economics, and another from College of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Ijumba said that no more worry for the public over the skills of graduates as the university has enhanced its programmes to ensure the graduates are suitable for the labour market.

“We need to differentiate the general perception that graduates do not fit with job demands, which is the situation in many countries. Some complaints show that our graduates have skills but they are not able to apply, which is a general case. More is being done to keep on improving our programmes so that our graduates are not just relevant for Rwanda only but also for the region, continent and worldwide as well,” he noted.

Ijumba said the university is proud to receive some feedback that the graduates are performing well on the labour market, especially in the areas of commerce and industry, health sciences, nursing, and medicine.

The institution’s target is not to prepare graduates to become necessarily employees, but to also encourage and instill in them the aspects of entrepreneurship.

Message to graduates

Ijumba advised graduands not to be scared but seize available opportunities and be creative.

“The job market has changed. It is not easy to assure graduates that they will get jobs. What we do is train them to cope with the environment,” he said.

Lack of a job does not mean that a graduate is useless. There are many opportunities around that can help graduates become entrepreneurs, the professor said, adding that the university has initiated the centre of innovation and entrepreneurship to help graduands benefit from available business opportunities.

The graduates will start arriving at Amahoro stadium from 6am to 7:30am while the invited guests will be arriving at 7:30am to 8:20am.

Rwanda

Over 150 Rwandan Artists for Jamafest 2017

Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi and the host Uganda will showcase their troupers in music, dance, comedy, poetry,… Read more »

Rwanda: Districts Move to Exploit Landfills for Income Generation, Job-Creation

By Michel Nkurunziza

In a bid to increase internal revenue generation, some districts have started to recycle and make products from waste materials.

This move also supports efforts geared at protecting the environment and optimal utilisation of all resources to create new jobs and boost development initiatives among rural local government, according to Ngoma District vice-mayor in charge of finance and economic development, Jean Marie Vianney Rwiririza.

Rwiririza told Business Times that the district has, for instance, set up a Rwf700 million plant that will recycle garbage and briquettes. The plant is scheduled to start production soon, he added.

Promoted by conservationists and proponents of sustainable development, briquettes are more efficient in cooking compared to charcoal. They can be made from garbage or saw dust, among others. The vice-mayor explained that the district is now seeking a firm to manage and operate the plant under a private-public partnership scheme.

“We are optimistic that the project will create more jobs along the value chain when production of briquettes starts in coming months,” he said. The facility’s initial production capacity during the pilot phase will be about 1,200 tonnes of briquettes per day. This will be scaled up at a later stage.

SERCO Company, which installed the equipment at the plant is currently training personnel who will work in the plant.

The plant needs 10 tonnes of garbage to start operations, but only 2.5 tonnes have been collected since the beginning of the year. Most of the waste is supplied by garbage collection cooperatives, and there is a plan to buy them at Rwf7 per kilogramme to able to attract more suppliers according to district officials. Rwiririza said the district is seeking ways to get more recyclable waste from neighbouring districts to ensure sustainable production. Already, garbage collection firms in those districts have been contacted to supply the factory.

Phillipe Rubayiza, the director of SERCO Company, said the firm will train 15 people to kick-start operations as the district waits to privatise the plant.

Rwanda is committed to the development and implementation of landfill regulations in all urban areas, extraction and utilisation of landfill gas (LFG) for power generation by 2030. This would reduce approximately 586,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and create off-farm jobs, according to the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA). The dangers posed by garbage will, however, be reduced as districts and private investors strengthen ties to exploit the potential of landfills for economic purposes.

Some of the districts are not only constructing landfills but also target to turn garbage into resources such as energy and organic manure.

In Kamonyi District, garbage is used to make organic manure, while some waste is sold to local and regional recycling plants, Thaddee Tuyizere, the district vice-mayor in charge of finance and economic development, said.

The district contracted COPED to make fertilisers from the waste. Aimable Rwantunga, the general manager of COPED, told Business Times that the firm collects over 50 tonnes of waste per day, and has so far produced 100 tonnes of manure. They sell the manure to farmers at Rwf100 per kilogramme.

Some of the garbage, such as sawdust, dry agriculture waste, and rice husks, are used to make briquettes which they sell to prisons, schools, and military barracks.

“We also make plastic bags from recycled polythene materials, while waste such as papers is supplied to paper recycling plants; plastic bottles are sold to recycling firms in Uganda, and metals are sold to steel industries,” he added.

The firm currently produces one tonne of briquettes per day.

Commenting on the two projects, Oreste Niyonsaba, the manager for clean cooking and biogas solutions at Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), said that turning garbage into different energy solutions is one of the ways that will help ease pressure on the country’s forests and support sustainable development.

Niyonsaba added that local governments and institutions in charge of sanitation are mandated to support such initiatives. City of Kigali authorities recently said they were seeking $14 million to develop another landfill where garbage will be treated and turned into energy.

The project will be developed with support from United Nations and Development Programme (UNDP), Green Climate Fund (GCF), and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), according to city officials. At least 300 tonnes of waste is collected in the City of Kigali a day.

Cost-effective

One kilogramme of briquettes could be sold at Rwf30. This is much lower compared to Rwf300 for a small basket of charcoal or a bundle of firewood.

Supporting green growth

Landfills emit methane gas, representing the largest source of air emissions at about 70 per cent that escape into the atmosphere. This threatens the ozone layer and causes global warming.

Local governments are expected to integrate the green growth strategy in their development plans under an ongoing three-year project financed by the Rwanda Green Fund.

The project, that started in 2015, also seeks to help them develop green growth strategies and investment plans to attract funding.

Plastics Ban Date Closes in as Kenyans Speak of ‘Super’ Rwanda

By Elvis Ondieki

Ask any Kenyan who has been to Rwanda to explain how Kenya will change when polythene bags are abolished, and you will get a description of Utopia.

With just over a week to the August 28 enforcement date of a polythene bags ban by the Environment ministry, the Sunday Nation spoke to three Kenyans who have visited Rwanda recently.

Some of the terms they used in describing Kigali include “impeccable”, “super-clean” and “different world”.

COURT BATTLE

Asked if Kenya can one day receive such praise, Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu shrugged her shoulders and said: “It is up to Kenyans.”

“Now, I’m in court. So, clearly, there is a faction of Kenyans that does not want this to succeed.

“I can’t say too much; I’m in court, I’m being fought. If Kenyans want it, we can.

“We can even exceed that [Rwanda]. But it’s up to Kenyans,” she told Sunday Nation on Friday.

BAN PHASE

The case she was referring to was filed in July by importers and traders, who want nullification of the ban that she introduced by a six-month notice in a Kenya Gazette signed on February 28.

Despite the case, Prof Wakhungu is optimistic that the ban will take effect, noting that in the first phase of the purge, only polythene bags that are bought for carrying products will be targeted.

Manufacturers, she said, will still be allowed to package goods in polythene bags as they fall under the primary packaging category.

“Primary packaging means when it’s packaged at the point of source,” she said.

CARRIER BAGS

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema), in a notice recently published on its website, has also announced that polythene bags that are used as dustbin linings will not be phased out, same with bags used to handle biomedical and hazardous waste.

“These bags must be clearly labelled (printed) the name of the industry manufacturing them and the end-user,” the authority says.

That implies that despite the ban, there will still be polythene containers, but Prof Wakhungu believes the ban will deal with a good chunk of the current problem.

“This is phase one; we’re just going after plastic carrier bags. Kenyans should be prepared to be carrying their own reusable bags,” she said.

CLEAN-UP

In Rwanda, where there has been a ban on polythene packaging since 2008 and where there are regular mass cleaning events, most areas especially in its capital Kigali are spotlessly clean.

The Kenyans we spoke to were skeptical on whether Kenya can reach that level.

Communication consultant Bonface Nyangla has been living and working in Rwanda since March 2015.

GOOD WILL

He flashed back to the day he entered Rwanda at Gatuna border.

“As we approached Kigali, I realised I was in a different world: the roadsides were sparkling clean, no rubbish and even the water running in culverts was clean,” he recalled.

“We can achieve the same feat in Kenya as long as there is political goodwill from our head of State, the 47 governors and the general population,” Mr Nyangla added.

DISCIPLINE

Ms Wairimu Kuria, an auditor, visits Rwanda regularly, the last visit having been late last year.

“From the moment you land at the airport, the air smells different,” she said.

“The streets are super clean and the road gardens are well-maintained.

“What surprised me is that people deliberately look for a legal place to pass through. No one steps on the grass.

“I went to the supermarket and they use khaki paper bags to pack. I found this inconvenient, especially if you are buying a lot of stuff. Did I like it there? Yes, to the point of relocating,” she said.

ATTITUDE

Asked if the same can work in Kenya, she said: “I don’t think so. It requires a total overhaul of the mindset of the population, right from the top.

“It is more than a need for a clean environment. It is a total intolerance to impunity.”

Sports journalist Isaac Swila visited Rwanda in 2015 and spent two weeks on an assignment.

“I can tell you Kigali looks like a small heaven,” he recalled.

“When I landed at the airport, at the passenger clearance, the first thing they inquire is whether one has a plastic bag in their luggage.

“If you have any, woe unto you! ‘You have to leave it there. It’s that simple. It’s only when one has left the airport and begins to enjoy the ride around the city, surrounded by the rolling hills, than one appreciates the strictness of the ban,”‘ Mr Swila added.

ATTEMPTS

Whether Kenya will one day be worthy of such praise remains to be seen, because efforts to ban polythene bags have failed thrice before — in 2005, 2007 and 2011.

Prof Geoffrey Wahungu, Nema’s director-general, recently said he was optimistic that this time the efforts will come to fruition.

“From 2008 to 2014, we were talking about how to manage and control plastic waste. But now, since the ban is already gazetted, it’s going to be illegal to import and manufacture plastic bags,” he said during a courtesy call to Nation offices in May.

He added: “Nema is not alone. We have about four very important government agencies.

“The first one, which has already come on board and given notice, is Kenya Bureau of Standards.”

MANUFACTURERS

Among the people who hope that Kenyans will be weaned off polythene packaging are manufacturers of paper-based products and other biodegradable packaging.

Some manufacturers of the eco-friendly packaging will be holding an exhibition at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on Thursday and Friday to showcase alternative ways of carrying items.

Among the participants will be Sai Green, a company that produces packages that look like the common polythene bags but which are made from materials that rot — like starch and vegetable oil.

“Conventional plastic bags are made from fossil-based oil, which is not renewable; therefore by using EG bags we can reduce fossil-based oil consumption,” Sai Green says in one of its promotional materials.

EMPLOYMENT

Prof Wakhungu, in a May interview with Nation, had said that some of the items that will henceforth be used to make packaging material include sisal, bamboo, water hyacinth and other paper products.

“Actually, these materials exist. We have homegrown industries that, if given the opportunity, will generate more jobs than these specialised hegemony jobs of the petrochemical industries — because that is what they are,” she said.

Other firms interested in making alternative packaging, which have expressed interest in Thursday’s exhibition, include Thika Cloth Mills and E-Power Ecosystem.

But not all are moved. An employee at Premier Bag and Cordage, a Nairobi-based firm that produces sisal bags, said his firm is not inspired to make products to fill the void.

“A bag will cost a minimum of Sh150. I don’t think many people will want to buy them,” Sushand Sahao, a worker at the firm, said.

CLOTH BAGS

As the clock ticks to August 28, a number of supermarkets have started preparing their customers for the eventuality of polythene-free packaging by introducing cloth bags.

A number of them are already selling cloth bags rather than issue the conventional polythene bags.

Nema has also asked all parties involved in importing or manufacturing of polythene used for packaging goods to apply for fresh licences.

Namibia: Villages Scarred By Indiscriminate Sand Miners

By Placido Hilukilwa

AN INVESTIGATION by the environmental commissioner into alleged illegal sand mining activities in the Oshana region has unearthed a money-making scheme which has left deep scars in the natural landscape.

The investigation was conducted after land activist Job Shipululo Amupanda complained to environmental commissioner Theofilus Nghitila on 4 August.

Amupanda had said that the “dangerous open pits” dug in rural villages in the Oshana region, by what he branded “greedy foreign contractors”, have damaged the environment “in the name of profit”.

Nghitila reacted swiftly, dispatching a team of two experts – Simon Hangula and Ipeinge Mundjulu – to get the facts, enforce compliance and raise awareness.

Their four-day mission confirmed what Amupanda had alleged.

However, the officials said although their fact-finding mission took place immediately after Nghitila received that letter, that is only half the story.

“The mission was planned before that letter arrived,” said Mundjulu.

The Namibian accompanied the team as they visited old sites at the Omaalala-B village in the Ongwediva constituency, the Epukunoyana village in Ondangwa rural, as well as sites where contractors are currently mining sand in the Amutanga and Iikelo villages in the Okatana constituency.

The team found that some pits are too close to homesteads, and are life-threatening in that sand miners left without rehabilitating them as required by law.

Some pits are not fenced off, and in one instance, a deep open pit was found to be a mere five metres from a homestead.

The recent good rains transformed the open pits into water reservoirs which pose a danger to children who swim in them.

“These people are required by law to have an environmental clearance certificate, but that was not the case at all the sites we visited so far,” Mundjulu stressed.

“Sand extraction activities are being conducted in a way that not only puts the lives of residents and their livestock at risk, but also causes irreparable damage to the environment,” said Hangula.

The culprits include the Chinese companies contracted to build the railway line between Ondangwa and Oshakati, and the gravel road from Okatana to Ompumbu, respectively.

Hangula said they would submit their report to Nghitila, with recommendations to penalise the violators and to order them to rehabilitate the sites.

The environmentalists also distributed copies of relevant legal documents to raise awareness, and left their contact details with both the contractors and the affected villagers.

Meanwhile, sand mining has become a cash cow for impoverished villagers who have started offering their mahangu fields to the Chinese contractors to mine sand.

A villager can get between N$50 000 and N$100 000 for allowing Chinese contractors to mine sand in their mahangu field.

Although environmental officials say the villagers are being ripped off, villagers see it as a windfall, and are now lining up to offer their land to the contractors.

In the Epukunoyana village, the environmental officials were approached by a villager who, paying no attention to the vehicle’s GRN number plate and without being prompted, offered his mahangu field to them.

“You can start mining immediately,” he said even before the officials could introduce themselves.

“He perhaps thought we were representatives of Chinese contractors,” said Mundjulu as the team proceeded with its investigation.

However, the money paid by Chinese contractors is also driving a wedge between villagers and the traditional authorities, as well as between couples as they disagree on how to use the money.

One lady freely narrated her ordeal. She said her husband took the N$50 000 and just left.

He now stays elsewhere, and only visits occasionally.

“I have no clue how the money was spent. He only bought building materials for that shack over there,” she said, pointing at a recently erected shack.

“Even the portion of the money meant for the traditional office was not paid, and I was summoned by the village headman to explain,” she added.

Customarily, the money from sand mining activities is shared between the owner of the mahangu field, the headman and the traditional authority office.

Nigeria: Lafarge Intensifies Alternative Fuel Adoption to Offset Gas Shortages

By Femi Adekoya

Having suffered some input cost pressures in the 2016 financial year, due to foreign exchange losses on dollar loans, the inability to access foreign exchange, the high cost of production as well as prolonged gas shortages, Lafarge Africa, has intensified the adoption of alternative fuel to reduce operational costs and aid profitability.

According to the cement manufacturer, energy costs remain a critical part of its operational challenges and it is being managed through an energy optimization plan that has seen it increase use of Alternative Fuel (AF) to offset gas shortages.

Already, its Ewekoro 1 plant migrated from 100% reliance on gas and LPFO to about 50% use of alternative fuels at the plant, with commitment to ensure that renewable energy use aligns with its sustainability plans.

The Plant Manager, Lafarge Africa, Olusegun Soyoye, during a tour of the cement plant at Ewekoro in Ogun State recently, explained that the firm had already commenced a reforestation initiative to ensure that the environment is restored while exploring partnership with the Ogun State government to drive the waste-to-energy initiative.

Soyoye said that Lafarge Africa’s strategic plan was to conduct business with zero harm to people and the environment by developing solutions that optimise natural resources for power generation.

He said that the company had substituted fossil fuel with the use of renewable energy to generate electricity toward mitigating production disruptions arising from unstable power supply and gas shortage to the industrial sector.

For 2017, Lafarge Africa had stated that it expects to return operating EBITDA margin back to historical levels, capital expenditure of N31billion for Nigeria and South Africa operations, mainly to consolidate its energy optimization plan principally for Ashaka coal fired captive power plant, Alternative Fuel in Ewekoro 2 and Coal in Mfamosing as well as the divestment of non-core assets.

“We are using palm kernel shells to produce biomass that fuels our plant and 134 hectares of trees have been planted for this purpose.

“Capabilities of burning industrial waste, residual dry fuel (RDF) from municipal solid waste and use of shredded tyres is proposed for fourth quarter.

“Alternative fuel usage is in place on Kiln one and will be implemented on kiln two by the fourth quarter in 2018.

“We are constantly working to reduce energy consumption and carbon emission at all stages of our production process by improving sourcing of electricity from renewable energy,” Soyoye added.

The firm’s Communication and States Relations Manager, Mrs Titilope Oguntuga, said that the company had invested in forging strong ties with its host communities through its various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Oguntuga said that one of such programmes was the Cement Professionals Training Programme (CPTP) that aims at training youths toward bridging skills gap in cement industry and increasing local content of Lafarge operations in Nigeria.

“The three years training programmes, include mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, instrumentation and automation technology, cement manufacturing process and entrepreneurship,” she said.

In her remarks, Mrs Olufunke Madojutimi, the Environment Manager, Ewekoro Plant, said that Lafarge Africa’s production programmes has contributed to long-term socioeconomic and environmental development of the country.

Africa: Lafarge Africa Restates Commitment to Promoting Renewable Energy

Lafarge Africa, one of the leading cement manufacturers in Nigeria, has restated its commitment to using renewable energy to enhance sustainable development of the construction industry and protection of the environment.

Mr Olusegun Soyoye, the Plant Manager, Lafarge Africa, made the assertion during a tour of the cement plant at Ewekoro in Ogun.

Soyoye said Lafarge Africa’s strategic plan was to conduct business with zero harm to people and the environment through developing solutions that optimised natural resources for power generation.

He said the company had substituted fossil fuel with the use of renewable energy to generate electricity toward mitigating production disruptions arising from unstable power supply and gas shortage to the industrial sector.

“We are using palm kernel shells to produce biomass that fuels our plant and 134 hectares of trees have been planted for this purpose,” he said.

Also, Mrs Titilope Oguntuga, Lafarge’s Communication and States Relations Manager, said the company had invested in forging strong ties with its host communities through its various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Oguntuga said one of such programmes was the Cement Professionals Training Programme (CPTP) that aimed at training youths toward bridging skills gap in cement the industry and increasing local content of Lafarge operations in Nigeria.

In her remarks, Mrs Olufunke Madojutimi, the Environment Manager, Ewekoro Plant, said Lafarge Africa’s production programmes have contributed to long-term socioeconomic and environmental development of the country.

NAN

Nigeria

Boko Haram Carries Out ‘Two-Hour’ Attack On Borno Community, Kills Four

No fewer than four persons were killed in an attack by Boko Haram insurgents at Wanori-Amarwa community of Konduga Local… Read more »

Namibia: Husab Leak Still Causing Friction

By Adam Hartman

Swakop Uranium yesterday gave an assurance that it has done all it could to minimise the environmental impact of a leak at its Husab tailings dam caused by a pump failure earlier this year.

Environmental watchdog Earthlife Namibia issued a statement yesterday in which it accused Swakop Uranium of downplaying the risks of the leak to the environment and human health.

The statement explained that the tailings dam is the most dangerous part of the entire process of a uranium mine as it contains 85% of the radiating material from the original uranium ore, and that the milling process only extracts uranium from the ore, while the decay products remain in the tailings.

Earthlife stated that the “decay chain”, including radioactive substances such as thorium-230 and radium-226, was concerning, and that radium-226 was of specific concern as it continuously decays to radon-222, which escapes as a gas into the air. This can apparently cause lung cancer when inhaled.

Radon gas can also be carried far by winds. A part of it can also decay into other radioactive elements, possibly dropping onto soil, vegetation, and on surface water.

“It can permeate into groundwater, our scarcest and most precious resource, which can be contaminated in a way that it will never again be fit for consumption,” the statement stressed.

Earthlife rejected Swakop Uranium’s investigation report that the spill affected a small area inside the perimeter of the tailings storage facility fence, which is not accessible to the public or animals.

“Keeping in mind that radiation and contamination do not respect any borders, the statement trivialises the dimension of the hazard. This is unfortunately common practice by the management of big companies worldwide to silence the public after disasters happened,” the watchdog said.

“The fact that the pumps have failed indicates inadequate maintenance of the equipment. How can it happen that a business of such huge and hazardous level is handled so irresponsibly? We cannot accept the gamble with our environment, and the health of its people. The short-term benefits for a few don’t by any means justify the harmful social and environmental impacts,” the letter added.

Swakop Uranium’s vice president for human resources and business support, Percy McCallum, reiterated that the company did all it could to contain and fix the problem, and gave an assurance that there is no risk to the environment or people.

An investigation was done by the department of environmental affairs, the national radiation protection authority, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, and an external environmental consultancy. It revealed that the pumps at some of the lined seepage collection ponds partially failed, and with the continuous inflow of the seepage water, it resulted in the lined seepage ponds overflowing onto the unlined surroundings.

McCallum said when the external regulators examined the area, there were no longer any overflows of the seepage ponds as corrective action had already been taken to repair the pumps in time, and additional pumps were used to pump the water back into the tailings dam.

In addition to the water analysis done by the mine, the ministry also took independent samples for verification. The company continues to frequently monitor the tailings storage facility and surrounding boreholes, he added.

McCallum said rehabilitation was done to neutralise the sand patches where the spill occurred, and the subsequent rehabilitation of the areas started, and is continuing.

The executive director of the Namibian Uranium Institute, Gabi Schneider, said while Earthlife’s “decay chain” was correct, the risk to the environment and humans was from small to non-existent.

“Namibian uranium ores are extremely low grade, and 85% of a low grade ore is therefore even less,” Schneider explained. “Because of this low grade, the emission of radiation is also low.”

Featured Links

    Search Archive

    Search by Date
    Search by Category
    Search with Google
    Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes