Safety risks from land mining on private property are being overlooked by many of the owners, unaware of the dangers to lives.
The concern, however, has become an on going struggle for the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, to monitor and enforce safety regulations for families to follow.
MNRE Assistant CEO, Safuta Mr. Toelau Iulio of Land Management worry over the dangers posed by landslides to public lives.
Major landslides at Lalomanu and Tafua are examples.
“Many issues arise out in these areas especially when people believe that it is their land that they are mining and the government has no say in it,” Safuta disclosed in a recent Land Week
“But this is where they have misunderstood the reason these regulations are in place, to guarantee safety of everyone involved during the mining process.”
Safuta insisted the only concern by Government is to monitor the whole process by granting permits and advising land mining prospectors of the appropriate areas to mine or where mining should be suitable.
“If anything happens and affects people, it is the responsibility of the government to understand the causes and be mindful of what is to be done through the help of ministries like MNRE.”
Safuta told Newsline that while some land owners understand the formal process to follow in land mining, it is the job of the respective ministries to keep them constantly informed.
Land issues are difficult issues for the Ministries as most of land mining are within customary owned land that government can only advice and suggest what can be done.
One of the major problems at Lalomanu according to Safuta is how mining has affected the shoreline and villagers are worried about rising sea level during high tide when the water comes all the way up the shores.
“This is exactly what makes this push by the government so complex. This is why control is needed in all communities to avoid these problems and more importantly the fact that climate change has affected the whole country.”
Safuta offered that the ministries with their respective responsibilities can provide solutions except the remedies are not short-term.
“This is why it is important to regulate to ensure risk areas are covered.”
Safuta pointed to the complex land issues and especially land usage and it is a must for government to be vigilant, as the solution doesn’t happen overnight.
“We have to push forward all the time with awareness programs for understanding is the main thing.”