It will no longer be business as usual for owners and operators of quarries in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State. This follows the enactment of a law meant to regulate their activities.
The bill which was sponsored by Mr Mathew Olory, who represents Akamkpa 1 constituency in the state house of assembly is to guide the quarry operators in their operations. Operators who flout the laws will be made to face varying degrees of penalties.
The legislators passed the bill into laws last week and the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade is expected to endorse it to give it the needed legal teeth.
Part of the provisions of the bill is the establishment of a board to be called the Cross River State quarry regulatory and environmental monitoring board.
“The board shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and may sued in its corporate name. The functions of the board shall be to:
(a) Ensure that quarrying in this state is carried out in a sustainable manner,
(b) Collaborate with the ministry charged with the responsibility for solid minerals in the state and other relevant bodies in setting up guidelines for the carrying out of quarrying business in the state.
(c) Monitor the activities of any holder of quarry lease in the state and make report of violation of any condition of the lease to the commissioner of the ministry charged with the responsibility of solid minerals in the state who shall in turn communicate same to federal ministry of solid minerals.
(d) Ensure the application of international best practices in quarrying and
(e) Carry out any other function that may be assigned to it by the governor.
According to the bill, the powers of the board shall be to:
(a) Impose levy, fees, rates and fines for all forms of quarrying activities in the state in conjunction with the commissioner of the ministry of finance.
(b) Investigate or cause an investigation to be carried out into whether any person has violated any of the provisions of this law or not;
(c) Compel any person, authority of arm of government to which this law applies to disclose information in whatever form relating to quarry exploration in the state.
(d) Authorize a qualified officer of the board to liaise with companies and individuals who hold quarry lease to determine how best to explore and tap solid minerals in the state with zero degradation impact on the forest;
(e) Make regulations conjunction with the ministry charged with the responsibility of solid minerals in the state on the mode of entering the forest or any land to carry out quarry activities in the state.
(f) Make regulations in conjunction with the ministry charged with the responsibility of solid minerals in the state on replenishing degrade forest area by holders of quarry lease.
(g) Determine the general policies and guidelines relating to the functions and powers of the board.
(h) Subject to the provisions of this law, the board may make recommendations to the governor for the review of rules and regulations which relate to the functions of the board.
(i) Ensure that any holder of a quarry lease complies with the provisions of environmental impact assessment, and
(j) do any other thing that will enhance the effective implementation of this law.
The bill also spells out what every quarry owner should and should not do. It states that “the holder of a quarry lease shall ensure that he carries out quarrying activities in such a manner as to ensure and promote the sustainable use of the forest.
“The holder of a quarry lease shall ensure that he puts in place emission mitigating safeguards while carrying out exploration activities in any forest in the state.
“Any holder of a quarry lease shall ensure zero degradation by planting equal number of trees destroyed by his quarrying activities before the end of his exploration. The manner of forestation and regeneration shall be as stipulated in the regulations made pursuant to this law.
“The quarry levy shall be paid into the forest trust fund established under the forestry commission law of 2010 and applied for the purposes of:
(a) Maintaining the forest.
(d)Reduction of carbon emission; and
(e)Reduction of emission of other poisonous gasses in the state.
“Any person who has applied for and granted a quarry lease, shall first register same with the board before proceeding to the site to commence any exploration activity.
- (1) any person who fails to comply with the provisions of section 8 of this law commits an offence and on conviction shall be liable to offence and penalty.
(a) In the case of individuals, affine of N 250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira); and
(b) In the case of a corporate organization, affine of N2, 500,000 (Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira).
“Without prejudice to the provision of subsection (10 of this section, the board shall have the power to close down businesses on quarry established without due registration to accordance with the provisions of this law.”