FRANCISTOWN: Illegal sand mining is threatening farming along Shashe River, with some farmers fearing their businesses will collapse if the activities continue. These farmers depend on the river to water their gardens.
Members of the Tshukudu Farmers Association raised this concern to the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila during the Water Pitso held in Francistown recently.
They said that excessive sand mining resulted in soil erosion that led to shortage of water as the river is no longer able to hold water for a long time.
Farmers pleaded with the minister to end sand mining activities saying it threatens the future of irrigation farming.
One of the farmers, Gaolefufa Tshenolo told Mmegi that Shashe River is a lifesaver for his farming business.
He suggested that government should take gravel found at the quarry, crush it and make sand to be used for construction to avoid extreme sand mining.
Another farmer, Melton Banngale said through farming they increase the country’s food security and boost the nation’s economy.
He echoed Tshenolo’s sentiments that with excessive sand mining they will ultimately fail to operate farming businesses because there will no longer be enough water from the river.
Banngale explained that when they requested for funds for their businesses they looked at the lifespan of the water in the Shashe River but now they fear for the future of their livelihood. He said that government should take action against the sand miners now than wait for the situation to get worse.
“When collecting sand the law reflects that they should not reach the level of underground water but people ignore this. I always see water dripping from their tipper trucks, “ he said.
Monarch Customary Court president Gunny Moses said that there is a need to educate members of the public living along the rivers to monitor illegal sand mining and the importance of sand conservation.
He said the majority of people do not know that illegal sand mining affects them as future residents of that area.
Commenting on the farmers concerns, Mokaila said that not everyone is allowed to mine sand in the rivers stating that there is a procedure that one needs to follow in order to be given a license for sand mining but people ignore it. He conceded that sand mining is also a ministry’s concern saying that the majority of the companies involved in illegal sand mining are owned by foreigners and do not care about their mess.