[ Source : Supplied ]
The Ministry of Lands has expressed deep concern over the persistent reports of illegal gravel extraction in the Navua River.
Minister for Lands, Filimoni Vosarogo, says the ministry, responsible for issuing licenses to companies involved in such activities, is troubled by the recurrence of these reports despite past inspections.
He says they have done inspections in the past, and this has revealed a certain number of anomalies in the exercise of the license.
In response to these concerns, the ministry is set to conduct another thorough inspection of the area this week.
“It’s certainly something that we would want to revisit, and we will be looking at that this week. Companies—I think it’s just the manner in which they extract that is the subject of the complaint. There has not been any identification of a company that doesn’t hold a license and is operating along the Navua River. So it’s the ones who presently have a license to extract that the locals have a problem with.”
Vosarogo highlighted the challenge of surveillance in remote areas like the Navua River, making enforcement a complex task.
“These places are hard to put surveillance on. They’re not within your line of sight. It’s a matter of enforcement. But also, I think at some stage, at some point in time, we’re going to have to look at the sanctioning part of it. Whether there is now a need to increase penalties when one is found to be in breach of their license.”
River Tubing Managing Director William Danford had also raised concerns, saying that despite previous notifications and reports, no significant measures have been implemented to curtail these unauthorized activities.
Danford says the impact of this illegal extraction on the environment and local community is severe, and the inaction is exacerbating the situation.
He called on the authorities to urgently address the issue and put an end to the unauthorized gravel extraction that is causing irreparable damage.