Singapore is not impacted by the Cambodian government’s permanent ban on exports of sand for construction and sand mud from Koh Kong province, the Radio Free Asia reported.
It said the ban was in force amid environmental impact concerns, but an environmental group on Tuesday urged it to end the export of all types of sand and demanded greater transparency for the industry’s practices.
Cambodian Mines and Energy minister Suy Sem announced the ban on July 10 to replace a temporary one issued last year after a group of watchdog organizations demanded a reexamination of the environmental and social impact assessments of dredging in the province, ministry spokesperson Meng Saktheara told RFA’s Khmer Service on Tuesday.
Singapore was Cambodia’s top market for sand until last year when the temporary ban came into force.
Singapore’s Ministry of National Development (MND) said in January the Republic stopped importing sand from Cambodia after the ban took effect in November last year.
The MND had stressed that Singapore sets strict criteria for imports of sand, including on environmental protection, but reiterated that sand is imported on a commercial basis and it is the contractors who must meet the criteria.
It also said that Singapore has not come across any illegal shipments of sand into the country.
In November, Cambodian authorities temporarily halted sand exports by companies that hold valid permits after local activists found discrepancies in the export and import trade data from the United Nations.
The extraction and export of Cambodian sand has been controversial, as firms allegedly extract sand in defiance of quotas, destroying coastal mangrove systems in the process and affecting the livelihoods of local fishing communities.
Aside from Cambodia, Singapore also imports sand from the Philippines and Myanmar, according to media reports.
Some environmental groups remained sceptical about the ban being properly enforced. – AGENCIES
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