Defiance to take Environment Impact Assessment will always result to negative consequencesMay 19, 2012
By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
The Environment Protection Act of 2008 as amended in 2010 clearly indicated the precautionary measures companies should take when doing any work that may have impact to the earth or the environment. Schedules in the Act pointed out that any quarrying; construction etc. work to be taken in Sierra Leone, a well documented Environment Health and Social Impact Assessment should be taken for a project in other to get preventative measures. A young and dynamic woman has died as a result of heavy stone from the blasting of a stone by the Chinese Hunan Company along the Regent Jui bypass road.
The aid reliance which the government of Sierra Leone is depending on for assistance will always put its citizens at risk because the Chinese companies coming in the country according to their agreement are not obliged to take EIA licenses for their road and other construction works.
The Chinese Hunan Construction and Engineering Company, is presently constructing a mini hydro dam along the hills overlooking the Bathurst settlement without taking Environment Impact Assessment licenses for the works despite the laws of Sierra Leone stipulating such regulations in the Environment Protection Act of 2008. If a woman passerby with three children by the name of Madam Isha Kanu should have been whispered to by the Angel of death, she could not have wish to pass at the Regent-Jui bypass road. She met her sudden death on Wednesday 2ndMay 2012 when she was plying the Regent road from the Jui axis. Madam Isha was hited by a big stone due to a heavy dynamite blast by the Hunan Construction and Engineering Company. The remains of Madam Kanu have been buried by family members after she gave up her ghost at the Choithram Memorial Hospital.
According to Sorie Turay who was a nephew to Madam Isha Kanu and was with her from the Jui axis said “we were halted by One Chinese man to stop for five minutes and wait for the blast before we can proceed on our route. We waited for sometimes and as the dynamite was blasted, a portion of the rock flew to Madam Isha’s direction and hits her on the head. She collapsed and was taken to the Choithram Hospital where she gave up the ghost”.
Information gathered from the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone indicates that the Hunan Construction and Engineering Company do not possess an Environment Impact Assessment license for the dam they are constructing at the Regent axis. Mr. Momodu Justin Conteh said “if there was an EIA license, it could have prevented the death of Madam Isha because the environmental precautions should have been followed. This is why the Environment Protection agency of Sierra Leone is stressing on the importance of taking an EIA before any company can start to operate”.
The environmental word, ecocide means “the extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.” The Sierra Leone Government projects on roads and rehabilitation in the country with the Chinese Companies are primarily the leading violators of ecocide in the country. For instance, the Hunan Engineering and Construction Company and the China Railway Seventh Group are operating in the country without possessing an Environment Impact Assessment.
Officials of these companies have intimated to this writer that they are not obliged to taking or abiding to any environmental laws in the country. According to the Chinese officials, their agreement with the government of Sierra Leone clearly indicates the role of the Sierra Leone government in providing the land and other necessities while also ignoring the issue of death that may result due to their works in the country. Each time a member of these Chinese companies is contacted or asked for reference in their agreement with the government of Sierra Leone, the person will say their agreement with the government of Sierra Leone has a confidentiality nature which they are not in position to comment or disclose on.
However, the Sierra Leone Roads Authority and the Ministry of Works Housing and Infrastructure need to urge their Chinese Companies to always take environmental Impact Assessment for their works whether on national projects or not. If this is done, the risk of companies like Hunan blasting with dynamite will be fully educated and informed by the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone on when and how to carry their dynamite blasting in the communities they are operating.