Can Sierra Leone protect sensitive ecological sites?

Sierra Leone News: EPA Tours Tourism Sites in the North

The Environmental Protection Agency Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) Senior Environmental Officer North, Alfred Alhaji Tejan Jondie, recently toured Lake Sonfon in Diang Chiefdom Koinadugu district and Outamba Kilimi National Park in the Tambakha chiefdom, Bombali district.
The tour is part of their mandate in protecting sensitive ecological areas in the environment from being destroyed as a result of human activities
The four days tour came as a result of growing complaints of illegal mining, hunting, logging and farming in the government reserved forest, which has the tendency of damaging the tourism sectors in that part of the country. The proactive joint monitoring team that was headed by EPA comprises officers from the Biodiversity department in the ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the National Mineral Agency.
The Chief of Segbeya Village who hosted one of the 17 rivers that feeds into Lake Sonfon, Manju Turay informed that there are seven villages which surrounds the lake and that they are mainly involved in farming and not mining.
He confirmed the presence of mining activities in their village, which according to him, had seized operations for over six months, when officials from the Tourism, Mines and EPA, visited their chiefdom headquarters and stopped all mining activities around the lake.
Chief Manju Turay said since then, all mining activities in their village had stopped pointing out that they are not aware of any government limitation, as to where they should farm or not, stating that if there is any clear demarcation indicating no go areas, they will ensure locals and illegal miners don’t go beyond their limits.
The headman for Makonie village, one of the surrounding villages to the lake, Abu ‘Black’ Sesay, said three months ago, there was a Chinese Company by the name of ‘Dojo’ Mining Company that was operating in their village but their operations was halted by EPA for unknown reasons.
He said before the company started operations, they were not involved in any arrangement which among many reasons left them in a funny position in terms of enforcing their authority.
Chief Abu B. Sesay said Lake Sonfon has a 7 miles radius with a lot of logging activities affecting them because the more trees loggers cut the more the water table reduces thereby exposing them to direct sun rays and their sources of water dry quicker. He confirmed his people’s involvement in small scale mining but pointed that it has nothing to do with the lake because their village is located below the lake Sonfon and that, their rivers empty at Dalakru where Lake Sonfon empties too with other small streams.
Chief Security Officer of Dojo Mining company, Stephen Alimamy Kargbo, said they have all certified documents from Mines and EPA for them to operate in that part of the country, stating that three months ago, one of their license expired and they were stopped by EPA from operating.
He said Lake Sonfon is situated above their operational village which by any means their operation will not affect the Lake.
Stephen Alimamy Kargbo said they had built mosque, health centre and road in their operational areas as part of their corporate responsibility and that they are also backfilling their previous mining pits.
THE newly-elected Paramount Chief of Tambakha Chiefdom PC Kandeh Sorie Kakando III assured the team of his commitment in protecting the National Park and the environment by instituting bye laws to control and end illegal activities like mining, logging and hunting around the park. He said he had formed chiefdom committees to monitor on different activities from mining during the dries to hunting and logging.
Paramount Chief Kandeh Sorie Kakando III of Tambakha pledged his support in ending hunting, logging and farming in the reserved areas as he called on government to demarcate the national park from other farming areas, pointing that his chiefdom is big and his people are mainly farmers.
By Mohamed Kabba
Tuesday June 24, 2014

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