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Scholar wants sand packaged in 50kg bags, sold in hardware shops

23rd Nov, 2016

A university professor is proposing the packaging of sand in 50, 25, 10 and five-kilogramme bags and sold in hardware shops just like cement.

Prof Jackson John Kitetu said this while presenting a paper on the impact of sand harvesting from dry river beds and its significance in the construction industry.

His was among the 30 papers that were presented at the recently concluded National Construction Authority’s Annual Construction Research Conference and Exhibition  National Construction Week at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

“Apart from packaging, the government should frequently do environmental assessment of sand deposits to determine the amount of available and ban illegal sand mining activities,” he said.

He said sand should also be classified as a mineral just like gold, copper, diamond and titanium, thanks to its high economic value with 90 per cent of Nairobi City’s demand for building sand is met from upper Athi River Basin.

The sand harvesting permit system in this area offers a valuable source of revenue to local authorities such as Machakos and Makueni counties.

“But due to weak enforcement and endemic corruption within the system, the two counties are only realising about 10 per cent of the revenues available to them,” said Prof Kitetu.

He said that due to lack of proper control and management of sand extraction activities, extensive degradation of the riverine and surrounding environment has occurred.

This, he said, has caused less water supply and quality in the surrounding areas, causing major concern and conflicts between residents and sand miners.

It has also resulted in degradation of land river systems, leading to soil erosion thus instability in the river bed, reduced land crop productivity leading to food insecurity.

Other effects are reduced water quality and availability for people and livestock.

“Laws, policies and legislation should be revised to control management and mining of aggregates, more exploration and exploitation of deposited aggregate resources and less mining of river channel bed and sand resources among others are my recommendation,” he said.

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