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Environmental News are Public Interest Issues and should not be kept secret by environment and Forestry Ministers

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

I have been pushed to the corner to respond through my own medium since the key governmental stakeholders involved and supposed to be seen vibrantly promoting the protection of the environment have denied me information on the Sierra Leonean Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve.

For those my readers who may not be in the know, over a month now, I have been panting around the corridors of the Minister of Lands Country Planning and the Environment, Alliue Pat Sowe, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Alie Badara Mansaray and the so-called Director of Forestry, commonly as Mr. Mansaray.

 

Lands Minister…Pat Sowe and Deputy Minister of Forestry Alie Badara Mansaray…in one accord for not giving out environmental information

Sierra Leone is a signatory to the United Nations agreement on the Millennium Development Goals, specifically Goal 7 aimed at ensuring environmental sustainability by the end of 2015 (less than five years from now). The international community after finding out that the rate of deforestation shows signs of decreasing, finding urgent response needed for solving climate change, and the parallell success for the Montreal Protocol mandated that Goal 7 should be adhered to greatly by all member states and stakeholders.

But this idea is not heeded by the immediate environmental stakeholders in the country. The Environment Ministry under the political mantle of Minister Pat Sowe and the Forestry Ministry with Alie Badara Mansaray and his Director of Forestry may not know the implication of what they have done by denying giving out environmental information which will help protect the forest and the environment as a whole.

The Lands and Environment Ministry under Pat Sowe is really not serious in helping people understand more about their environment. To Pat Sowe, sitting in a wheel chair and turning all angles in his air-conditioned office while receiving political pundits with mixed messages is the work he was mandated to do as a minister and for the country. The pundits and mob of land grabbers always flood the Minister’s office trying to cajole him with the pretext of them being supporters and sympathizers of the APC party. The more they win and carry his soul easily, the more environmental destruction will happen in the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve. Perhaps, the reason for avoiding me could be that the Lands and Environment Minister does not want this columnist to ask him the reason why massive encroachment of land is talking place at the Forest as most of the buildings at Sugar Loaf are owned by officials of the Lands Ministry.

The Minister forgets that the main reason why His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma reinstated him in that Ministry attracting international attention is to spread the Agenda for Change Policy of the government. I wonder what he would have done if he had attended the 2011 Conference Of Parties (COP19) in Durban to represent the Lands and Environment Ministry and the Country as a whole. Believe me; if he would have been in a dilemma had he been posed questions by any foreign journalist because he would be in the same predicament he is facing now with this local environmental journalist.

Mr. Pat Sowe just sits at his office without coming up with strategies for the protection of the environment, because if this were not so he would not be offended when the Conference Hall of the Ministry is used by the Environment Protection Agency whose Head is directly responsible to the Office of the President, and not to to him. In the middle of this year, Pat Sowe felt offended when the EPA-SL which also resides at the 3rd Floor of the Youyi Building was having a training session for environment Journalists. I was told the EPA-SL went through the normal procedure by officially writing a letter to a high ranking officer at the Lands Country Planning and the Environment Ministry. I am also told Pat Sowe was officially told about this but he pretends to be ignorant of the issue.

Lest I forget, his behavior in closing the entrance to the East Wing where the EPA-SL is located is still not going down well with officials of the Ministry and the Agency. If one wants to either enter in or out of the East Wing at the 3rd Floor, he/she must either use the 2nd or 4th floor of the building before getting access therein. What nonsense. Many elderly persons have been complaining about this but it is not usually heeded by the Minister of Lands and the Environment. In the whole of the Youyi building from top to bottom, it is only at the Lands Ministry where the door linking the Central and East Wing is closed. All the other floors are accessible. What is so special at the Lands and Environment Ministry that Pat Sowe does not want to be seen? This we will find out.

However, there seems to be a high rate of hypocrisy among the Lands and Environment Minister and the so-called Director of Forestry. They claim full backing of the Welthungerhilfe and European Union funded project called “Conservation of the Sierra Leonean Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve and its Watersheds” but in the real sense, this is not the case. Maybe, they want to get a small pinch from the project seed monies? Let it don’t be, please.

The Lands and Environment Ministry, the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and the Director of Forestry must come together and support environmental conservation and preservation in the country and they should not hide information which must be used in protecting the forests.

Posted by on 3:56 pm. Filed under Breaking News, COMMENTARIES, NEWS, OTHER NEWS, THE ENVIRONMENT, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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