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Environment Protection Agency fights against illegal sand Mining

…and takes messages to Western Area Rural Communities

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

The Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone in their efforts in taking environmental awareness and education to communities in the country has taken the onus in sensitizing communities around the western area Peninsular about the dangers of illegal sand mining in their communities and the country as a whole. The sensitization starts on the 23rd on to the 26th of September 2014 starting at the Levuma Beach in Goderich and reaching out to communities in Sugar Land, Bololo, Banga Farm, Lakka, Hamilton, Borbor, Sussex, Tokeh, York and John Obey. The illegal sand mining sensitization was jointly conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and the Western Area Rural District Council.

Illegal Sand Mining is presently practised by many vehicle owners in the Western part of the city. Many communities have been wrecked by violent storm and collapsed many houses in Lakka but yet still many tipper owners and people engaged in the sand business do not realize this fact instead they persistently engaged in the practice.

While members of the EPA-SL and police officers are busy educating the youths on the impact and implication of sand mining in their village, the youths are busy loading the trucks for their daily sustenance.

While members of the EPA-SL and police officers are busy educating the youths on the impact and implication of sand mining in their village, the youths are busy loading the trucks for their daily sustenance.

As a way of continued efforts towards environmental education in the country, the Environment Protection Agency decides to engage the community people in constant education about the practice as well as finding solutions where sand miners can now engage the sand mining business instead of doing it unregulated.

The Deputy Director responsible for field Operations and Extension at the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, Mr. Syl-Brains Kamara said his Agency decides to undertake environmental awareness on sand mining around the western area communities to engage them about the dangers of sand mining in the country and highlight what had happened around the coastal areas. According to Mr. Kamara, sand mining is being pursued all over the coastal areas of the western area citing out that everywhere one goes, there is an uncontrolled sand mining.

The Environment Protection agency of Sierra Leone have been pursuing illegal and uncontrolled sand mining issues in the country and their efforts had not yielded any dividend towards practicing a well agreeable sand mining practice in the country. According to Mr. Kamara, two years back, the Agency decided to engage key stakeholders including the leadership of the Freetown City and Western Rural District Councils, Parliamentarians of the Coastal areas where sand mining is being done and some of the chairpersons of the sand mining communities. He said this time they took the onus to again meet the people directly involved towards this sand mining in the country so that they can all find amicable ways in which they can best address the issue of controlled sand mining in the country.

Talking to all the communities from around the Western Area Rural District Council engaged in the practice as well as tipper drivers and owners, Mr. Kamara reiterated the fact that sand is important and there is no infrastructural development without the use of sand. He informed the community that “we must do it with respect and more responsive way in which we can protect our communities and properties” adding that the primary responsibility of any government is to protect live and property of its citizens as well as stop any activities that will destroy the environment and properties in the future.

Mr. Kamara noted that there is a fact that sand mining is a key source of livelihood for many people and communities in the country but that should not be a stepping stone to destroy the environment and be unable to care for future occurrences.

A representative from the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mr. John W. Taylor on behalf of his Minister said the sand is good and useful for our homes but “we must be careful with the manner in which we carry sand mining”. He urged the community people not to promote natural degradation citing out that because of uncontrolled sand mining, the roads. Mr. Taylor added that “we must protect our environment so that we can able to protect the generation yet on born”. He encouraged the community people to only mine sand where they have been allowed to mine because as a Ministry responsible for tourism, sand is very important to their functions.

The Deputy Director responsible for field Operations and Extension at the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, Mr. Syl-Brains Kamara making a point at Levuma

The Deputy Director responsible for field Operations and Extension at the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone, Mr. Syl-Brains Kamara making a point at Levuma

 

Madam Beitu Keifala the Regional Environmental Officer at the EPA-SL admonished the important of sand and the beaches to the communities. She stressed that uncontrolled sand mining will lead to an unprecedented sea level rise which will cause a devastating consequence towards the communities and the country. Madam Beitu informed all the community people that they are not against their sand mining but as an Agency need a well organized system where there will be a consistent and rotational sand mining in all the communities instead of concentrating in a particular community. She said if sand mining is concentrated in a particular area, the stones will be exposed and the fishermen cannot also get a good catch.

The regional Environmental Officer noted that the sand is home for other animals and breeding points for them but if all the sand has been removed, it will not be good for the sea turtles and other sea animals that use the costal sand beaches as playing ground.

Before now, sand mining activities are allowed in Hamilton, John Obay and Sugar Land but must be done on a rotational manner. The Chairman of the Tipper Ground at Levuma, Ibrahim Kanu denied claims of doing uncontrolled sand mining. According to him they are abiding to the rules and agreement earlier sought with the Environment Protection as to places where they can do sand mining. He made it clear that they are only doing sand mining on Monday and Thursday at Sugar Land, from Wednesday to Saturday at John Obay and only on Wednesday at Hamilton. The main challenge they have is the issue of special interest that is normally visible to government officers who combined with the communities citing orders from the above. He also indicated that military and police officers with guns normally do sand mining at Goderich and Levema. He recommended for security officers with guns to be placed at the Levuma area so that the beach will be protected.

 

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