Air pollution: Namibia ‘skating on thin ice’

Toxic gases pose serious health hazards

18 November 2021 | Environment

The unregulated production of charcoal poses a serious health hazard to farmworkers who are exposed to life-threatening emissions without any recourse in sight, Auditor-General (AG) Junias Kandjeke says.

Kandjeke made these findings in his latest performance audit report on air quality monitoring in Namibia within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).

Tabled in the National Assembly, Kandjeke’s report covers the financial years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.

The 100-page dossier lays bare how Namibia is skating on thin ice as far as air pollution is concerned and how ordinary people such as farmworkers are exposed to radiation sources that pose lifetime health risks to workers.

At the heart of his finding lies charcoal production.

Worse according to Kandjeke, is that MET’s forestry directorate conducts little or no regular inspection as planned to ensure that workers are protected. “As a result, the [12] Commercial Charcoal Producing Farms’ (CCPFs) unsustainably harvested trees to produce the charcoal,” he said.

Kandjeke paints a bleak picture of the treatment of charcoal farmworkers. “All CCPFs did not provide evidence that pre and post medical examination was collected to determine the health status of workers i.e. respiratory work inhaling, smoke at kilns burning charcoal,” he said.

To mitigate this, he said, “The directorate of forestry should enforce harvesting license conditions of commercial charcoal producing farms in accordance with section 29 of the regulations of the Forest Act to ensure that the workers are protected from excessive smoke emissions.”

Locos also sinners

Troubled national rail entity TransNamib has also been fingered in the report over its failure to conduct adequate locative examinations risking locomotives emitting hazardous substances.

TransNamib does not have a contingency plan on the use and replacement of locomotives. Some of its trains are older than 30 years and emit harmful hazardous substances in the air posing a hazard to public health.

Kandjeke goes on: “TransNamib should ensure that they conduct locomotive examinations before operating a locomotive on the railroad.”

The rail operator does also not ensure timely re-ordering of key spare parts such as oil filters that prevent gas emissions from trains.

Finger pointed to Health

The AG pins blame squarely on MET and its stakeholders for failing to put control measures in place to ensure that the general public is not exposed to unregulated excessive greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere.

MET and its stakeholders (including the health ministry) also failed to deploy effective measures to regulate imports, sales and public smoking of tobacco products in Namibia to ensure that the public is not exposed to second-hand tobacco products which pose health risks and simultaneously contribute to environmental pollution.

“The Radiation Protection Authority did not provide sufficient evidence that effective measures are in place to ensure the general public and workers are not exposed to unregulated excessive radionuclide/electromagnetic air pollution,” the AG asserts.

MET also did not ensure compliance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate recommendation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, local authorities burn waste in unheralded fashion without protecting employees or preventing on-site exposure to these life-threatening gasses.

The audit covered six regions - Khomas, because it is where MET’s head office and key stakeholders are located, and Erongo, Otjozondjupa, Oshana, Oshikoto and Omaheke.

The latter regions were selected because uranium mining, fishing, locomotive operations, asbestos roofing, hospital incineration, charcoal production, motor vehicle testing and waste disposal among others take place there.

– Nampa

Similar News

 

Namibia’s desert lions in dire straits

23 hours ago | Environment

Following reports and photos received recently of the Obab lion pride that roams the central western area of the Palmwag concession and the Skeleton Coast...

Suspected avian flu being investigated

4 days ago - 14 January 2022 | Environment

Swakopmund • [email protected] Following a major outbreak of avian influenza in South Africa’s Western Cape a few months ago that killed almost 25 000...

Increase in whale strandings not a worrisome occurrence

1 week ago - 07 January 2022 | Environment

Swakopmund • [email protected] Fourteen 14 whale strandings and mortalities were recorded along Namibia’s coast, 10 of which were during December, and one in...

Dolphin project calls for assistance

2 weeks ago - 31 December 2021 | Environment

Swakopmund • [email protected] The Namibia Dolphin Project (NDP) has requested the public to report any seals with monitoring devices that they may find along...

Damning conservation report ‘illegal and unethical’

3 weeks ago - 29 December 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected] Namibian communal conservancies have condemned an investigation by two environmental journalists into the country’s conservation programme, saying facts were twisted to...

273 caught for wildlife crimes in 2021

4 weeks ago - 21 December 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected] total of 273 suspects were arrested in connection with wildlife crimes this year and 144 cases were registered.This is according to the...

Coastal park management plans launched

4 weeks ago - 21 December 2021 | Environment

Windhoek ∙ [email protected] Park management plans have been launched for the Skeleton Coast, Dorob and Namib-Naukluft national parks in the Erongo Region.At the same...

Latest giraffe numbers give hope

1 month - 16 December 2021 | Environment

Swakopmund • [email protected] A report issued by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) headquartered in Namibia stated that since the last assessment by the International...

Protect Namibia’s natural resources

1 month - 29 November 2021 | Environment

Windhoek ∙ [email protected] Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta says the need to protect Namibia’s natural resources cannot be overemphasised, as it has a profound effect...

Hydrogeological map launched

3 months ago - 15 October 2021 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected] The minister of agriculture, water and land reform says that, in his opinion, a total ban on prospecting and mining activities...

Latest News

Swakop completes N$7 million road...

17 hours ago | Infrastructure

Swakopmund • [email protected] Roads around schools at Swakopmund are going to become safer after the Swakopmund municipality recently announced it was going to...

Namibia’s desert lions in dire...

23 hours ago | Environment

Following reports and photos received recently of the Obab lion pride that roams the central western area of the Palmwag concession and the Skeleton Coast...

More lives lost due to...

23 hours ago | Ministries

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula has expressed his concern about the increasing number of people who are reinfected with Covid-19. Namibia recorded 1 876 reinfections since...

NaTIS tackles licence backlog

23 hours ago | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected] New bookings for student licences at NaTIS have been temporarily suspended so that the huge backlog can be made up.According to...

Grumpy’s fishing report

1 day - 18 January 2022 | Fishing

Angling the past week was great with the beaches being relatively quiet since most holidaymakers are back at work. Our pick of the week is...

‘Free water’ costs hundreds of...

1 day - 18 January 2022 | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected] The provision of free water to vulnerable communities in informal settlements since April 2020, has almost doubled the debt of municipalities,...

NSA secures funding for delayed...

2 days ago - 16 January 2022 | Local News

Windhoek ∙ Ogone Tlhage The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) will be able to conduct its census later this after securing funding for the...

The Audi Q5, SQ5 Sportback

2 days ago - 16 January 2022 | Motors

Following the Q3 Sportback and the e-tron Sportback, Audi now presents its third crossover utility vehicle, the first-ever Q5 Sportback. This coupé with dynamic lines...

Drones delivering to your doorstep

2 days ago - 16 January 2022 | Technology

Windhoek • [email protected] Namibia will most likely start using drones to deliver medicine to remote locations within the next few weeks.This comes after a...

Load More