Galvanized into action by a spate of press reports on the negative impacts of a sand ‘mining’ boom in the Mekong Delta, inspectors from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Ministry of Construction began a ten province, week-long inspection tour in Can Tho City on September 7, according to Dan Tri online newspaper.
Singapore has a voracious demand for sand dredged from its neighbors’ shores, according to statistics provided by the international NGO Global Witness and quoted in Tuoi Tre newspaper. Every year, Singapore imports 3.8 million tons of sand. Since 1965, it has added 33 square kilometers to its total area via landfill projects, and it plans to add another 98. Until 1997, Malaysia was Singapore’s principal source of sand; when Kuala Lumpur prohibited further exports on environmental preservation grounds, Singapore shifted to exploiting building sand from Indonesia’s Riau archipelago. In January 2007, Indonesia also banned the sand exports, and Singapore buyers shifted their attention to Cambodia. Cambodia banned sand exports in May, 2009, triggering the curent ‘sand boom’ in the Mekong Delta.