By whose authority will NMP move into a protected area?
To the Editor,
During the past few weeks several articles were published in which the CEO of Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP), Mr. Barnabas Uugwanga, voiced his opinion on a variety of issues relating to their Sandpiper marine phosphate project.
On reading all of these, many readers can’t be blamed when they do come to the conclusion that he never disappoints to disappoint.
His views on what really matters and what causes concern about marine phosphate mining are so superficial. They lack substance. What is absolutely certain is that besides the serious ecological impacts of mining of seabed sediments on the marine environment, the bringing ashore thereof at Walvis Bay will have significant environmental impacts on the terrestrial environment as well. This has been explained to him and NMP, but can’t be comprehended for them. This they fail as they are clearly detached from reality.
Is it when faced with realities that one rather seeks refuge in nonsensical utterances, such as his grotesque remarks about protected areas in Namibia. He sees no reason why the Sandpiper project can’t be accommodated in one of these areas. His comments do open up several more fissures in the facade of NMP’s commitment to environmental issues. In advancing unctuousness for arguments, [it] underscores NMP’s confused approach to these issues.
In peddling the notion of accommodating Sandpiper in a protected area, [it] demonstrates his ominous approach and attitude towards environmental and conservation issues. He seems quite comfortable to ride roughshod over one of the main tenets of Namibia’s conservation policy – protected areas.
For him these areas are obstacles in his eagerness to advance his and his company’s aims. He is more than prepared to sacrifice them in his march to achieving [his] own goals.
Thank goodness there are still people with foresight in government institutions and public life that will do their utmost to ensure that each protected area stays as it is and for the purpose it has been proclaimed. And, not to let expediency and ignorance blur their common sense, undermine their perspectives and make them oblivious to Namibian laws.
The Hon. Minister of Environment and Tourism personified this realistic approach and forceful standpoint when she officially inaugurated the Namibia Protected Landscape Conservations Areas Initiative (NAM-PLACE) Project on 15 November 2012. She gave this significant detail:
“Namibia has over the years become a world leader in pursuing conservation initiatives. Remarkable achievements have taken place in the conservation of Namibia’s biodiversity and safeguarding ecological integrity of our ecosystems. To date, our country boasts 20 state-run protected areas that represent nearly 17% of the total land area. Most of these parks are world renowned for their uniqueness as tourism destinations and for their species richness”.
And these are the protected areas he does not mind carving up in the name of what he considers as “development”.
Before shooting his mouth off again he should page through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s publication entitled “State of Protected Areas in Namibia: A Review of Progress and Challenges, 2010”. That will enlighten him about Namibia’s protected areas being vital tools for conserving its essential biodiversity and also key strategy instruments for safeguarding that biodiversity and Namibia’s heritage. But equally important is the intangible value of protected areas – their contribution to education and scientific knowledge. But it would never be possible to quantify their true contribution to society in the way in which new generations treat their environments far from protected areas.
His suggestion on how to deal with archaeological sites standing in NMP’s way to locate their land based operations in Walvis Bay is absurd and truly beyond belief. Who in his right mind will ever entertain a proposal to “build an archaeological centre in Walvis Bay where all the artefacts, dug up from that particular area, can be stored, studied and displayed”? With this he has even lost those who up to now were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt while taking his pronouncements with a pinch of salt. Who will henceforth take him serious in whatever he has to say on any subject, especially on his company’s venture into the unknown and [dis]regard for any aspect of Namibia’s environment?
Since NMP has not yet received any approval for its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – neither for its marine operations or land based activities – we are confident that the appropriate Namibian authorities will not [shirk] their responsibility when considering the complete EIA and will hold NMP to comply strictly and in full with all applicable legal, statutory and regulatory prescriptions for both these operations of the Sandpiper project falling under one EIA.