Honourable members of parliament from the mines and minerals committee both SLPP and APC parliamentarians in collaboration with a civil society organisation have expressed shock and dismay over the massive devastation of the environment by both artisanal and large scale mining companies.
After visiting mining companies and also discussing with affected communities of mining operations the head of delegation Hon. Chernor Bah said “we will report about all the key issues that are affecting the mining industry in Kono to the President and the house of parliament.”
He said there are problems between the mining communities in Kono and the people particularly the Koidu Holdings Resettlement Program and the poor implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment.
Chernor Bah said “there are still prospects in Kono and the people should also benefit from all mining activities carried out in their respective communities.”
He expressed dissatisfaction over the attitude of some paramount chief’s benefiting from the mining companies through surface rents and other taxes that has not been accounted for by the paramount chiefs and there is also poor community relations between the chiefs and the people.
Hon. Chernor Bah said “we take all these complaints to parliament and to the President to take prompt action over some of the flaws and the rampant illicit mining.”
Hon. Emmanuel Tommy also expressed grave concern over the misuse of millions of Leones of surface rents by mining communities without giving proper account. He argued that with all the monies generated there is no significant development in the area.
He said “bad roads, lack of light and pipe borne water and the lack of basic facilities within the Township is a shame to the Vice President and wife including the MPs’s for failing to help the people.”
Hon. Paramount Chiefs Kassachende accused mines ministry officers of corruption in issuing cover notes and licences without the attestation of the paramount chief. “We know about one German National and 6 mining licences that have not been accounted for.
Joseph Rahall Executive Director of Green Scenery said Environmental destruction is a key challenge to the rapid development of Kono. He urged mining companies to implement the EIA.
Cecilia Mattia Coordinator of NACE said “the visit is an eye-opener to the MP’s Civil Society Groups and the Media for the people to take action and ensure that mining can also go with development.
In another development violence has erupted in Kono at No11 tailings between youth and mines monitoring officers living one Mines Monitoring Officer Mohamed Koroma seriously wounded on the head.
He told AWOKO that he had gone to the mines to do his normal work when he was attacked by illicit miners and one of them used his shovel to cut my head. He said he is presently taking treatment while the matter was also under investigation at the Koidu Police Station.
However some MP’s and Civil Society groups expressed fear over the escalation of violence in Kono over mining.
By Saidu Bah in Kono