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Sierra Leone News: Pres. Bio’s plan to put EPA under Lands Ministry is a subconscious step to blunder-Hon Alpha A Bah

The Member of Parliament representing Constituency 115, Western Urban, Alpha Amadu Bah (APC) said President Julius Maada Bio’s plans to remove the Environmental Protection Agency from State House to Lands Ministry is a subconscious step to blunder.
According to him, “It is international best practice for a country to have a sole Ministry of Environment” …that will effectively preserve and protect the environment.
He maintained that given the manner through which land management issues have been handled over the years particularly in the Western Area, if the President wants to ensure the issues of bad land management, land policy as well as addressing the challenges of environmental risk, he needs to at least divorce the two as he did for the Ministry of Finance Economic Planning and Development.
According to him, the benefit from such is that division of labour leads to specialization and the needed attention, expatriate and needed time will be dedicated to the attention of the environment, citing the situation on the manner on which land had been distributed and allocated along the right of way along the Bai Bureh Road and other places.
He furthered referenced the manner of allocation of lands where people were allow to construct houses along the footpath, bridges and reserve areas which all have very serious environmental complications.
“If you have the same Minister of Land making such allocations, distribution that turns out to be very bad management and distributions that will pose serious environmental implication how do you expect that same Minister to reverse those policies,” he questioned.
According to him, in effect the Minister cannot be the Judge at the same time a Litigant or a party in an action, disclosing that there will be a situation of conflict of interest and the lack of checks and balance but in a situation where there is a separate Ministry of Land and that of the Environment there will be check and balance which will ensure development.
He maintained appointing a new Executive Chairperson to the EPA can in no way solve the problem of the environment that is negatively affecting the country’s development and healthy lives of its people.
The Hon suggested that instead of placing the EPA under the Lands Ministry the President should recalibrate the administration and relationship between State House and EPA such that there is the political will power to ensure the problem of political interference President Bio is complaining about will not exist anymore.
“The President can also ensure that the National Protected Area Authority, the Metrological Department and EPA are all put together and form a Ministry of Environment as another suggestion,” he said.
Responding to the issue of a bloated cabinet, he is calling for the separation of the Ministry, he maintained that generally in life there is the rule of necessity, stating indeed there are certain Ministries that need not to be established but others are very vital citing the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development which is very important to be separated.
It could be recalled that President Bio during the official State Opening of Parliament disclosed in 2008, the Environment Protection Agency Act (hereinafter referred to as EPA Act) was passed giving the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment policy guidance and directional functions while the regulatory functions were passed to the Agency.
“In 2010, the 2008 Act was amended to completely change the governance mechanism of the Environment Sector. It removed all Government Ministries previously on the Board, transferred its supervision to the Office of the President and changed the title of the Chair of the Board to Executive Chair and Professional Head of the Agency,” he said.
“The EPA has been politicized and made generally dysfunctional without any effective collaboration and co-ordination between itself and the many MDAs so essential for the proper observance and implementation of environmental regulations,” he said.
The President said his administration will review the EPA 2010 Act and place it under the supervision of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment, monitor industrial establishments for compliance with environmental laws and regulations, establish independent agencies for disaster management and meteorology to improve the knowledge base and expand actions for early warning and disaster risk reduction among others.
By Alhaji Manika Kamara
Tuesday June 12, 2018.

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