The indiscriminate sand dredging and gravel mining activities atIbrahim Babangida (IBB) flood control site and other notable locations in AkwaIbom state has been prohibited until further notice.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by, the statecommissioner for environment and petroleum resources Charles Udoh on Mondaywhen he confirmed that henceforth such unapproved economic activities would besanctioned by government.
The ban comes a after the news media were awash with stories ofillegal sand excavation was thriving in several communities at the detriment ofthe environment as these excavations are said to have promoted massive landdegradation, 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 couldhinder the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreementunder the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, each adoptedin 2015.
In the communities visited, it was observed that well-forestedareas have sunk into huge ditches, with continuous steeps that have affectedfarming activities.
The major roads linking these areas are inaccessible by smallcars, except heavy-duty trucks because of the bad state they had metamorphosedinto. For motorcycles, it’s a no-go area.
Residents in at least four villages in Ibagwa and Abak UsongAtai communities visited by this reporter said the degradation has made them‘seasonal migrants’ as their lands are often flooded and their farmlanddevastated.
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.
“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 constructionwork but also destroyed the existing streams and created dangerous gullieswhich constitute serious threats to buildings and farmlands”.
“To this end, all individuals or groups involved in theseindiscriminate activities along the corridor of the project are hereby directedto vacate the location before Wednesday, December 23, 2020,” the statementreads.
“Defaulters will be prosecuted,” he added.
Sand excavation is the expulsion of sand usually from an openpit. This can also be mined from sand dunes, beaches and even dredged fromrivers and ocean beds.
However, sand mining activities along the shoreline and incoastal regions are a major cause of erosion and deforestation in Nigeria’sriverine southern region, experts say.
Many youth in the oil-rich state find solace in sharp sandexcavation from surrounding rivers and streams in order to earn a living, butlittle consideration is given to its environmental implications.
The demand for sand is driven by its use for construction.