|Illegal sand mining is rampant at the foot of Bảy Núi Mountain in An Giang Province. — VNS File Photo|
HCM CITY — Though illegal sand mining is rampant in the Bảy Núi (Seven Mountains) area in the Mekong province of An Giang, provincial authorities said they are unable to catch any of the miners red-handed.
On October 27 in An Giang Province, a 7,000sq.m pit was found at the foot of Ngoạ Long Sơn Mountain and four men were shovelling sand from the pit into a truck in plain public view.
The vehicle later went to Ba Chúc town in Tri Tôn District behind an escorting truck.
In the town, many other trucks could be seen carrying sand for selling to construction sites in the district. Authorities have clarified they have not issued a single licence to mine sand in the area.
Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper reported that 10 illegal sand mines with a total area of some 50,000sq.m were found at the foot of Ngoạ Long Sơn Mountain.
The three biggest are near the monument of the National Liberation Front of An Giang Province in Tri Tôn District. They measure 25,000sq.m and are 10 metres deep.
The illegal miners have in fact put up sentry boxes along the road leading to the mining sites.
At one of three illegal mines, two large excavators were shovelling sand into three large trucks.
When strangers are spotted, the miners warn each other by phone, immediately switch off the excavators’ engines and flee with the trucks.
A local resident named Đạt said these mines have been operating for three years, selling dozens of truckloads of sand every day to construction sites in Tri Tôn District.
The owner of a construction site on Road 955B said he buys sand from two locals, one of them a former chairman of the Lê Tri Commune People’s Committee.
Local residents said the two men operate several illegal sand mines in the communes of Lương Phi and Lê Tri and Ba Chúc Town and have 14 trucks to transport the sand around the district to sell.
Sand mining in Tịnh Biên District
In Tịnh Biên District too there is illegal sand mining, but it is less brazen than in Tri Tôn, with the miners operating in the dead of night, finishing by early morning.
Local authorities said a man named Năm operates several sand mines in the district and has several trucks carrying sand from the foot of Cấm Mountain (in An Hảo Commune) and Ngũ Hồ Sơn Mountain (in An Phú Commune).
The trucks include one with a false number plate, they said.
On October 27 Tuổi Trẻ found one of the trucks leaving Nhà Bàn town at midnight, and heading to an illegal mine at the foot of Ngũ Hổ Sơn guarded by a sentry box. There were guards to warn strangers off while 10 men were shovelling sand into two trucks.
Nguyễn Văn Dương, secretary of the An Phú Commune Party Committee, said while local officials are waiting for licences to be issued by higher authorities to mine sand near Bảy Núi Mountain, illegal miners are working at night.
“All sand mining at Ngũ Hổ Sơn is illegal. However, commune authorities find it hard to catch them red-handed because the sand is mined at night and the illegal miners keep close watch.” — VNS