The Minister of Environment Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, has revealed that some companies, after acquiring requisite licenses to operate industries in Botswana, have repeatedly failed to adhere to the requisite environmental monitoring practices in accordance with the environmental impact assessment proposals that they had submitted.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the international conference on paste and thickened tailings on Thursday, Mokaila said that while environmental monitoring is a key component of the construction and operation phases in industries, it has emerged that some companies continue to flout their EIAs.
He told the conference that environmental sustainability is a key component of sustainable development and the government of Botswana has acceded to and ratified a number of multilateral environmental agreements and associated protocols, several of which have a direct impact on mining operations.
”For instance,” he pointed out, “hazardous effluents from mine tailings and petroleum products ought to be handled and disposed off in accordance with provisions of the Basel Convention.”
The minister said that to show its commitment to sustainable development, the government introduced the EIA Act in 2005 as an environment management structure.
“This act requires virtually all key environmental principles and standards advocated for in the multilateral environmental agreements and associated protocols. Unfortunately, some companies operating in Botswana continue to flout their EIAs,” he said.
However Minister Mokaila said that, as a means of curbing this disturbing trend, his ministry will, in preparation for the implementation of NDP 10, acquire a near-full staff complement in order to enable adequate decentralization of the EIA process.
He went on to warn that the setting up of a watchdog department to ensure effective implementation of EIAs does not in any way diminish the responsibility of the industry in matters of self regulation and quality control matters of environmental management.
Mokaila said that the socio political and economic dimensions of sustainable development cannot be fully utilized in the absence of environmental sustainability.
The Paste 08 seminar covered a wide range of environmental issues, among them achieving water efficiency, efficient residue management, global warming, legislative issues, and environmental sustainability issues.
Government, with the assistance of the Tshole Trust has also been grappling with the problem of improper disposal of used oil by garages and transport operators. It has been revealed that people indiscriminately dump waste oil in to the soil, into storm water drains and into streams.
Only recently government was also embroiled in a bitter battle with fire wood retailers in Makomoto after forestry officials repossessed their firewood and banned their industry.
At the end of his presentation Minister Mokaila told the international delegates that, in the Botswana government, they had found a willing partner and urged them to speed up the implementation of the innovative ideas that they had discussed.