In my home village there is a quarry where the villagers extract stones for use as domestic building material. Recently the village authority started to impose fees to the residents for extraction of stones from the quarry on the ground that the quarry is within the village land and belongs to the village authority. Does the village authority have power to impose these charges on the residents who extract stones for domestic use only?
Stones are minerals in view of the definition of the term mineral in section 4 of the Mining Act [Cap.123 R.E 2019]. Section 5(1) of the Act vests the entire property and control over all minerals upon any land in the President in trust for the People of Tanzania. A village authority has control over the village land but stones being minerals, though found within the village land, cannot be under control of the village authority.
A village authority can only control a quarry within its area of jurisdiction if it is issued with a mineral right by the Mining Commission. We understand that a village authority has power under section 168 of the Local Government (District Authorities) Act [Cap.287 R.E 2002] to make by-laws for the purpose of carrying into effect its functions. Legislative power of a village authority includes power to make by-laws that imposes charges, fees and fines on the residents.
However, legislative power of a village authority cannot extend to matters which are expressly excluded from control of the local authorities generally or village authority specifically. Besides, section 18(2) of the Mining Act waives the requirement for obtaining a licence where a member of the public extracts minerals that are commonly used as building materials and where the purpose of the extraction is personal use. The village authority which has no mineral right can only guard against the use of the quarry in a way that it doesn’t pollute the environment, and not by imposing fees to the residents for extraction of the stones from the quarry.