Quarry firm irks villagers



MASERU – Villagers are accusing a well-known quarrying company of damaging their surroundings without clear authorisation from environmental authorities. The Ha Mpeke Community Association is demanding that the government intervene, as Moradi Crushers Company has had more than 20 years working in the area but to date has not complied with the community for the damages caused by their operations, nor have they shown any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) authorisation to carry on with their work.

Moradi Crushers has commercial plants in the rural towns of Morija and Peka and has been supplying crushed stone for over 30 years. The association states that to date, the company has not given the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) their EIA; instead, only an audit report was issued to TRC by the Ministry of Natural Resources, whereas there cannot be an audit report without an EIA.

The Environmental Impact Assessment is a tool used to assess the significant effects of a project or development proposal on the environment. EIAs make sure that project decision-makers think about the likely effects on the environment at the earliest possible time and aim to avoid, reduce, or offset those effects.

Ha Mpeke Community Association Advisor and Facilitator, Thabang Mokhathali, said it has been 20 years since the company has commenced construction in the area, but to date it has not approached the community due to the fact that they do not have full documents for that.

He said when they approached the company’s management about the issue, they said they would not talk to them but would only speak to the person who issued the licence to them to begin the work.

Mokhathali said after being snubbed by Moradi, they insisted on meeting with the Ministry of Natural Resources but have to date not received any assistance from the ministry. He said that after their efforts proved futile, they decided to seek assistance from the popular civic rights advocate, the TRC.

He claims that everything going on in the community that has to do with the company’s operations has produced bad results, as the community members are left with damaged houses that give in to the vibrations caused by blasting, while pastures and springs have been destroyed due to ongoing work. “I want to know what is happening with their malicious non-compliance. I wonder if the non-compliance is from the government or Moradi itself, because neither of the two is doing anything to solve this. When such things are being done, there are many regulations that need to be followed, such as the Environmental Act No. 10 of 2008, government policies and regulations, and the Constitution. “Nothing like that has been done. None of the laws have been used. What we are asking for as a community is compliance. The other problem is that to date we have not seen any kind of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which needs to be there for the company to continue with the crushing. What we have seen is an audit report, but we do not know what they were auditing. The audit report needs to audit a document that exists, and we have not seen the assessment,” he said.

The Minister of Natural Resources, Mohlomi Moleko, said some of the grievances do not reach his office and, at the end of the day, he has no knowledge of them. He said when such issues fail to reach his office, people tend to say he is not doing anything to solve their matters.

He, however, said the TRC should compile all the grievances regarding the affected communities and send them to his office directly so that these issues can be addressed and solved timeously.

He added that he has already hired consultants to work on the issue of EIA to keep track of environmental issues in all areas that involve environmental issues. TRC held a high-level stakeholders’ session on community demands on Thursdays this week. This is where some of the issues, such as those with Moradi Crushers, were addressed.

On presenting about community demands, TRC Public Service and Accountability Officer, Rokoe Lefera said that to date they have been requesting an EIA from Moradi Crushers, which is nowhere to be found.

She said even when they went to the responsible ministry, they did not get any kind of assistance, and the only thing that they were given was the EIA audit report. She stated that it is impossible to get an audit report without the document itself. 

“So our question is: what exactly was being audited if the document is nowhere to be found? We have tried in so many ways to ask for the document from the contractor, who failed to give us the document stating that there is a procedure that needs to be followed. That is when we went to the ministry responsible, and that is where we were given an audit report.

“We are wondering if such a contractor is doing such a construction legally or not because they are not even cooperative with the community; there are no clear policies in regard to compensation for which houses are damaged; children are sick because of asthma attacks; and many other negative impacts are facing the community,” she said.

Lefera added that all communities affected by these large developmental projects are facing challenges; some of them have not been compensated to date, yet they have been greatly affected. She also mentioned that these entities do not comply with the laws governing such practices, especially when it comes to communities.

She pointed out that the most affected and biggest impacts are those of compliance between the projects and communities, as well as the compensation policies of affected communities. Efforts to get Moradi Crushers’ side were futile as the human resources officer was out of the country and could only be back after the paper had gone for print.

The Environmental Act No. 10 of 2008 is an Act to make provision for the protection and management of the environment, conservation, and sustainable utilisation of natural resources in Lesotho, and for related matters. The Act makes provision for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in Lesotho. Ha Mpeke is in Manka Constituency #10 in Peka, Leribe district.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *