Mama Fundi -The Woman Construction Expert

Qn: Dear Mama Fundi!

I have often seen murram and rubble being poured onto good top soil or swamps, in preparation for future construction. But the good top soil for plants is lost! Is there any regulation against this practice?

The agriculture teacher in my school in the 1960s, the late Fabius Tadeo Rwakana, always started the first lesson with the question, “What is the most important thing in the world?”  His answer was SOIL. If ever anyone failed this question, the pupil would have at least six strokes of the cane from Rwakana!

Now to the answer. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Great Britain, www.defra.gov.uk  has a publication, “Construction Code of Practice for the sustainable use of soils on construction sites.”

It deals with, among others, soil management during construction and comprehensive soil care. The rule is that SOIL SHOULD NOT BE BURIED UNDER CONSTRUCTION AS THIS RESOURCE WOULD THEN BE LOST!   It states: “Soil is a fundamental and ultimately finite resource that fulfils a number of functions and services for society which are central to sustainability. Some of the most significant impacts on this resource occur as a result of activities associated with construction activity, yet it appears that there is a general lack of awareness and understanding of this need within the construction industry. A Code of Practice has therefore been developed to assist anyone involved in the construction sector to better protect the soil resources with which they work. By following the guidance in the Code you will not only be able to help protect and enhance the soil resources on site but you may also achieve cost savings for your business.”

I have not found a similar code of practice or regulations by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). While I will seek NEMA’s guidance for the next issue, I want to categorically state that it should be a crime to cover good arable soil, whether on hills or in valleys or swamps in the name of construction. Lost soil is a lost resource that is impossible to recover!