The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, announced that inspections for compliance with the Environmental Management Act will be increased this year.
Shifeta, speaking to his staff members and other stakeholders of the ministry for the first time this year, added that the ministry has become more visible on the ground in terms of monitoring compliance to the Environmental Management Act and it is also now starting to show its teeth in terms of its regulatory capacity.
During 2015 the ministry embarked on a region-by-region inspection programme and have also sensitised regional and local stakeholders on their obligations regarding the Environmental Management Act and the management of waste in particular.
He said that almost 100 sites have been inspected thus far and that during this financial year the ministry for the first time started to issue compliance orders against those contravening the Act.
Shifeta said this trend should continue during the next financial year so that the ministry is able to enhance its service delivery and ensure that all developments are efficiently handled and have the least possible impact on the environment.
“We are aware of the need to step up these inspections and I am confident we will improve further on this aspect in the 2016/17 financial year.”
Shifeta said if a compliance order has been issued and the ministry finds that companies are still violating the law, they will be shut down.
“We are going to this without fear, favour or prejudice. We will not leave any stone unturned.”
Shifeta also said the ministry has improved its capacity and efficiency in dealing with the increasing demand for environmental clearance and mining claims and over 300 clearance applications and 145 mining claims have been processed during this financial year.
According to him Namibia has made significant progress in terms of strengthening its systems and capacity to manage the environment. “This is a critical issue because as the economy expands the pressure on the natural environment is also expected to increase,” he said.