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One resident, who gave his name only as Antonio, said “Nobody blows the whistle because lots of people take sand from the dunes. For some, this has become normal. Few people here buy sand, they prefer to steal it from the beach". Photos: Notícias
The Mozambican police have arrested 11 people in the central city of Beira who are accused of illegally removing sand from Beira beaches, thus destroying the dunes that form part of the city’s protection against coastal erosion.
The sand is used for construction purposes, and those accused of this environmental crime say that they cannot obtain sand elsewhere, because the areas where they live are swampy, reports Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
The coastal protection police also seized the equipment used by those detained, who use both trucks and hand carts to remove the sand.
The criminals do their destructive work at night, and the Beira Municipal Police say they do have enough resources to control the situation. The head of operations of the Municipal Police, Manuel Gimo, told the paper “We don’t have enough manpower to patrol our lengthy coastline, and the criminals take advantage of this. But we want to say that we will be implacable against the people who are destroying the environment”.
Gimo added that people detained by the municipal police are handed over to the coastal police, a branch of the Ministry of the Interior dedicated to environmental protection. It is the responsibility of this police unit to send cases to the courts.
Residents of some of the Beira coastal neighbourhoods interviewed by “Noticias” defend the stealing of sand from beaches, on the grounds that they do not have the money to obtain sand from appropriate places inland.
One resident, who gave his name only as Antonio, said “Nobody blows the whistle because lots of people take sand from the dunes. For some, this has become normal. Few people here buy sand, they prefer to steal it from the beach”.
Another resident claimed that construction companies are involved and send trucks in the middle of the night to take sand from the dunes. He claimed that the companies are never caught by the police, which supposedly only concentrates on individuals removing sand in hand carts.
Beira cannot afford the destruction of the dunes. Parts of the city are below sea level, and that level is gradually rising thanks to climate change. With the removal of natural barriers such as the dunes, Beira becomes even more vulnerable to disasters.
Gimo stressed that the police have repeatedly urged protection of the coastal defences “but citizens are insisting on destroying the dunes”.Source: AIM
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