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Residents build river fence to oppose sand mining

People living near the Bo River in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue have erected a bamboo fence on the riverbed to prevent over-exploitation of river sand by an authorised company.

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The fence was built a week ago, starting from the southern bank of the river’s section in the province’s Lai Bang Village in Huong Tra District across the river. The fence occupies more than half of the river’s width.

The villagers said they built the bamboo fence by themselves to stop large barges travelling upstream for sand mining. The fence is strong enough to prevent barges crossing but it allows water to flow freely.

According to the residents, they had to have the fence as the barges took a huge volume of sand every day, hastening bank erosion in the village.

The barges were said to be owned by Tuan Hai Traffic Construction Company, a local firm contracted by the province’s authorities for sand mining at the site.

On the opposite bank, residents in the province’s Son Bo Village in Phong Son Commune used bamboo posts to continue the fence. But commune authorities ordered a halt to construction, pledging they would talk with provincial authorities for a solution.

A resident, who asked not to be named, said they would erect the bamboo to have a longer fence if the authorities failed to stop the mining.

On Wednesday, Nguyen Van Phuong, deputy chairman of the province People’s Committee requested a halt in mining by Tuan Hai. He also asked local authorities to persuade villagers in Lai Bang and Son Bo to remove the fence.

Nguyen Xuan Ty, chairman of Huong Tra District, said there are plans to measure the depth of the mining site to identify the mining impact on the riverbank. Once the impact is confirmed, authorities would mobilise locals for the fencing removal.

Nguyen Quoc Tuan, chairman of Phong Son Commune, said the measuring work will be undertaken in his side. Tuan reported that mining halt ceased Tuan Hai's operations, but illegal small boats continued mining at the site.

He pledged to form a team to combat the illegal boats. Residents in Lai Bang said the fence was erected without the approval from local authorities. However, they insisted that once the sand mining is allowed again, they will continue to erect more fences.



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