Akwa Ibom bans indiscriminate sand excavation


The Akwa Ibom State Government has banned indiscriminate sand dredging and gravel mining activities at Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) flood control site in the state.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by Charles Udoh, the state commissioner for environment and petroleum resources on Monday which he confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES when contacted.

The ban comes a few days after a PREMIUM TIMES report revealed how sand excavation in several communities is promoting massive land degradation, deforestation and expansion of coastal regions in the state.

This act, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), contravenes global sustainable environmental practices which could hinder the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, each adopted in 2015.

In the communities visited, PREMIUM TIMES observed that well-forested areas have sunk into huge ditches, with continuous steeps that have affected farming activities.

The major roads linking these areas are inaccessible by small cars, except heavy-duty trucks because of the bad state they had metamorphosed into. For motorcycles, it’s a no-go area.

Residents in at least four villages in Ibagwa and Abak Usong Atai communities visited by this reporter said the degradation has made them ‘seasonal migrants’ as their lands are often flooded and their farmland devastated.

Meanwhile, experts say unregulated sand mining activities violate sustainable global environmental practices, which could trigger climate change effects such as flooding, the release of carbon monoxide due to heavy-duty trucks’ movement and loss of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity due to continuous human interference.

Ban

“Following the commencement of construction work on the IBB Avenue Flood Control Project, Akwa Ibom State Government has noted with displeasure the high level of indiscriminate sand dredging and gravel mining at Mbikpong Ikot Edim and the outfall area of the IBB – Mbiakot drain,” Mr Udoh said.

He said ”these activities have not only hindered construction work but also destroyed the existing streams and created dangerous gullies which constitute serious threats to buildings and farmlands”.

“To this end, all individuals or groups involved in these indiscriminate activities along the corridor of the project are hereby directed to vacate the location before Wednesday, December 23, 2020,” the statement reads.

“Defaulters will be prosecuted,” he added.

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Sand excavation

Sand excavation is the expulsion of sand usually from an open pit. This can also be mined from sand dunes, beaches and even dredged from rivers and ocean beds.

However, sand mining activities along the shoreline and in coastal regions are a major cause of erosion and deforestation in Nigeria’s riverine southern region, experts say.

Many youth in the oil-rich state find solace in sharp sand excavation from surrounding rivers and streams in order to earn a living, but little consideration is given to its environmental implications.

The demand for sand is driven by its use for construction.

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