HCMC to make more coordinative efforts to crack down on illegal sand miners

Though city authorities have thrown the books on illegal sand miners, penalties have not been tough enough to deter people from committing illicit acts.
Illegal sand miners still work despite authorities’ efforts to crack down

Illegal sand miners still work despite authorities’ efforts to crack down

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Ho Chi Minh City, from 2019 to 2022, the city has handled 365 cases, confiscated 208 vehicles, 64,983 cubic meters of sand and issued about VND 6 billion fines on illegal sand miners. However, illegal sand miners in the city still exploit the construction material.

Mr. Truong Tien Tien, Vice Chairman of Can Gio District People's Committee, said that from 2019 throughout 2022, the district administration has sanctioned 64 people collecting more than VND200 million and confiscated many exhibits such as pumps to mine sand. Currently, the fight against illegal sand mining in the district is facing many difficulties.

According to him, the district has a wide sea area, bordering many provinces; therefore, when police officers detected and pursued, illegal sand miners fled in many different directions, making it difficult to track down them. Moreover, sand thieves took advantage of mining contracts, trading and transportation, invoices and documents available from sand mines in the Mekong Delta provinces to illegally exploit and consume sand with the aim to evade police officers’ inspection.

A representative of the People's Committee of Long Phuoc Ward of Thu Duc City also said that from 2019 to the first three months of 2023, there were 27 cases of illegal sand mining; consequently, police forces arrested 37 people and kept 36 motorboats of all kinds. However, he moaned the administration is bumping into difficulties in preventing illegal sand mining because of the lack of staff of the ward police in recent years. Worse, sand thieves use large-capacity motorboats to be ready to crash into vehicles of police forces to escape.

Meanwhile, according to Vice Chairman of Cu Chi District People's Committee Le Dinh Duc, from 2019 to now, illegal sand mining in the district has lessened. In recent years, the number of illegal sand mining cases in the district has decreased markedly. However, the prevention work still has certain difficulties.

The sand criminals have been using many sophisticated tricks to deal with police forces while the fund for the valuation of illegal sand mining activities is limited, making it difficult to determine the authority to make decisions on the confiscation of exhibits. In addition, without a parking lot for the long-term temporary detention of vehicles, police officers have been encountering difficulties in confiscating criminals’ vehicles.

According to the assessment of the authorities, illegal sand mining and trading activities are considered to be highly profitable without much investment. Therefore, sand criminals are using various ways to deal with police forces; even they are ready to fight against police officers and sink vehicles to escape. Illegal sand mining has caused loss of resources, river bank erosion, bad impact on coastal works as well as endangering people's lives and properties. Therefore, in the coming time, the city needs to implement synchronous measures and solutions to prevent it.

A representative of the Environmental Police Division of the Ho Chi Minh City Police said that in the coming time, it will set up a hotline with neighboring provinces to collect information and documents on licensed mineral mines, exploitation reserves, means of transport, and consuming partners so that it can implement preventative measures and understand more about tricks of buying and selling invoices to legalize the origin of illegal sand.

On the other hand, the division will coordinate with functional agencies under the Department of Planning and Investment, the Department of Taxation, and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to regularly exchange information on firms’ operations, the declaration and payment of natural resources tax, corporate income tax and the issuance of value-added invoices of enterprises related to the supply of sand for leveling and construction sand for construction projects and yards in the city.

Colonel Pham Van Thang from Ho Chi Minh City Border Guard, revealed sand miners that criminals usually exploit in areas from 6 to 10 nautical miles offshore and in bordering areas between Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Tien Giang, Ben Tre. Last but not least, sand thieves have produced false invoices to legalize the origin of sand.

Therefore, to improve the efficiency in the management of mineral exploitation activities in bordering crossings with provinces and cities, the southern metropolis will take heed of the implementation of more effective measures. Specifically, police forces will launch an investigation on business activities of building materials comprising sand, gravel, dredging of maritime channels of enterprises inside and outside the city and provinces in the Mekong Delta so as to understand more about the methods and tricks of criminals to find a way to handle them thoroughly.

At the same time, an inter-sectoral team will be established between neighboring provinces to pay visits to businesses of construction materials such as sand and gravel.

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