EPASL’s Executive Chairman Leads on the spot Checks to Hotels operating without Environment Impact Assessment Licenses

EBy Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

Happy he was, the Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency, Dr. Foday Moriba Jaward stepped down of his four storied office along Railway Line, mobilized a strong force from his dedicated staff and boarded his Official vehicle to give more weight for an on-the-spot checks to hotels operating along the Aberdeen axis without any Environment Impact Assessment Licenses or regularizing their current license status. Dr. Jaward said when he assumed the role as Executive Chairman of the Agency, he discovered that most of the Hotels operating in the country are not complying with the Agency to obtain their EIA licenses and that this time, the Agency have decided to meet them and explain the need for to comply with the law.

The Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency, Dr. Foday Moriba Jaward on the site visit

A team of more than seven Government Officials, the Police and the Media visited up to eight hotels on Tuesday including the Bintumani Hotel, Sierra Light House, Lagoonda, Hotel Barmoi, Home Suites Hotel, Sierra Palms Hotel, Hotel De La Joie and the Pearl Residences who had contributed greatly in biodiversity loss/upset due to massive encroachment into the Ramsar Sites in Aberdeen.

According to the Environment Protection Agency, notifications have been issued to most of the hotels since last year but that they have woefully failed to comply and ignored the salutatory provisions stated in the Environment Protection Agency Act of 2008 as amended in 2010 for such investments to undertake the processes of obtaining an Environment Impact Assessment license before they can start to operate in the country.

Also, some of the hotels had also failed to renew their licenses while some have failed to make payment ever since their license fees were computed by the Agency since early last year. Furthermore, the Sierra Palms and the Pearl Residence for instance have not completed the Environment Impact Assessment license acquisition process also known as ground-truthing stage.

During the on the spot checks and meetings with some top management officials of these hotels, it was discovered that most of the Managers showed total commitment and readiness to comply with the statutory requirement for their operations and acquisition of Environment Impact Assessment licenses while in particular the Lagoonda Management had paid their fees to the Central Bank of Sierra Leone before the end of the year.  

In a courteous and well planned approach, the Environment Protection Agency Assistant Deputy Director of Field Operations, Joseph Sapunka Turay informed the various Hotel Managers about the main purpose of the visit of the top management of the Agency to check and enforce compliance of the statutory provision of obtaining an EIA license. The Manager of the Home Suites Hotel after wanted to resist the delegation showed remorse later on and wholeheartedly promised to comply. He also promised to visit the offices of the EPASL at the end of the week.  

The Deputy Manager of the Bintumani Hotel, Donstana Thompson received the delegation with the fullest show of respect and informed them that the Hotel management have been going on with the process of obtaining an EIA license adding that they have not been getting the required information and advice from their environment Consultants.

After the Executive Chairman of the Agency, Dr. Jaward had informed the management of the Bintumani Hotel that they are not suppose to operate without any EIA license as stated by law, the Director of the Agency, Momodu Alrashid Bah urged the management of the Bintumani Hotel and all other Hotel managers visited to develop their Community Development Action Plan (CDAP) in other to lead towards the process of obtaining an Environment Impact Assessment License.

The Manager and owner of the Hotel Barmoi, Sheku Tejan Kamara also showed amount of readiness to comply but was however concerned about the computation method used to charge them. Environment Impact Assessment licensee fees are computed based on well structured method initiated at the EPASL based on the provision of the Environment Protection Agency Act and the impact a project is targeting to create within a defined area. As agreed upon by both parties, the Executive Chairman of the Agency requested the owner of Hotel Barmoi to visit the Agency within this week for another computation in other for them to fast track their compliance within the stated regulations.    

Without referencing to the computation method regulated by Parliament, a business partner at the Sierra Palms Resort, Ahmed Lahor Jalloh said they are concerned about the yardstick used by the Agency to rate their hotel as they are not in the same line significantly impacting or destroying the environment like the way and manner mining Companies are doing.

Like the Pearl Residence Hotel along the Lumley Highway, the Sierra Palms also entered into the Ramsar Site, destroyed the demarcation line created by the Lands Ministry and the Environment Protection Agency and constructed parking space for their hotel. They however promised to visit the Agency in other to regularize their status and both Sierra Palms and Pearls Residence Hotel would likely face penalties for tampering into the mangroves and create environmental and biodiversity upset in the Ramsar Site. Dr. Jaward said once one has impacted or encroached on the mangroves, he/she should pay a fine and the Agency will ultimately use such proceeds to plant other mangroves in another area.

Although she was at first very hostile in addressing Government Officials who are mandated by law in the EPA Act of 2008 as amended in 2010 to visit any project site without or with short notice, the Assistant General Manager of the Sierra Light House, Madam Victoria Cole promised to inform her bosses and management of her institution when there is a management meeting at he end of the week and revert back to the Environment Protection Agency. 

The Agency also used its authority to give out a cessation order to some Companies that are constructing structures along the Aberdeen Beach without going through the Agency for Environment Impact Assessment licenses.

Henceforth, the Agency is now waiting to see that these Hotel Companies comply with the laws as they have already promised to do. As promised by the Agency, those who will not comply within a shortest time frame will have their businesses closed and prosecuted into the Court of law.  

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