Plans by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to sell pit sand as a way of closing out sand poachers and curbing environmental damage associated with illegal sand extraction around the city are at an advanced stage.
According to the latest council minutes, the local authority instructed director of housing and community services Isaiah Magagula and the director of engineering services Simela Dube to “liaise and research on the feasibility of council’s involvement in the sale of sand and quarry”.
The full council meeting on Wednesday resolved to adopt the Town Land and Planning Committee’s recommendation to “designate a site for pit sand extraction and sale at Hyde Park Estate which was not yet developed in terms of housings schemes”.
The report said, according to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) laws, the site had to be registered and the local authority would be expected to pay a $173 fee quarterly for every 20 by 20 metres of area excavated.
Debating the issue this week, Ward 6 councillor Jennifer Bent expressed concern over the prevalence of “holes and pits” created by the illegal excavations for sand in the city and surrounding areas.
“This posed a serious danger to the children and should not be allowed to happen. Residents should be encouraged to immediately report any culprits to the appropriate authorities,” she said.
Deputy mayor councillor Amen Mpofu said council should work in liaison with other stakeholders such as the Umguza Rural District Council, “in the exploitation of sand from Gwayi River and other surrounding areas.”
“Indeed there was revenue potential in this area,” he said.