Demolition at Charlotte – Lands Minister Accused of Misusing Power
The Charlotte Indigenous Descendants and Development Association has accused the Minister of Lands Housing and the Environment, Dr. Dennis Sandy (in photo) of misusing political power.
This came about after Dr. Sandy conducted a demolition exercise in collaboration with the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA), Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Conservative Society, Forest Reserve, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Ministry of Water Resources, Climate Change, Environment & Forest Conservation Consortium Sierra Leone (CEFCO-SL) on Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at Charlotte, Mortem and Hill Top Communities in Freetown.
Briefing the media, the Minister of Lands Housing and the Environment, Dr. Sandy who was accompanied by his Deputy and lot of armed military and OSD personnel emphasized on the importance of the demolition exercise which left many makeshift structures and pillars destroyed within the Green Belt Area and stressed that as a responsible ministry, they are not happy with what is happening at Charlotte Village.
The Minister discussed that deforestation has contributed to climate change and shortage of water and mentioned that they would not allow people to construct dwelling homes beyond the Green Belt Area to protect the forest.
He described the exercise as a continuous process and ordered any structure found under high tension cable to be area to be destroyed.
Reacting to the Minister immediately after the demolition exercise, Secretary General for the Charlotte Indigenous Descendants and Development Association, Mr. Dennis Valcalcel spoke on the need to protect Charlotte because he said, it formed part of the heart of Freetown.
He described the action of the Minister of Lands, Dr. Sandy to demolish Charlotte without noticing or engaging stakeholders like Chairman, Member of Parliament and Councilor. He narrated that in 2009, Wealth Hunger Hife (WHH) work with line bodies to demarcate the Green Belt Area at Charlotte. ‘’All of these lands are well documented’’, he told the media and described Government as continuity. He blamed the Minister that it is wrong to nullify their lands document which he said was issued to the by the previous Government. He said what the Minister has done to them would never happen in any part of the world.
According to the Secretary General, the demolished area is far from the main highway and accused the Minister of taking decision in isolation without thinking that they are all Sierra Leoneans with equal right.
He said their District Chairman was not informed prior to what he described as an illegal and malicious demolition orchestrated by the whom he described as aggressive Minister of Lands.
He further described the action of the Minister as against the principles of good governance for the fact that he said, their documents were signed by the past Government. Mr. Valcalcel in a worrisome worn the Minister to be aware that he is servant of the people and must protect them.
The Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Lands, Alfred Kabia emphasized that the encroachment of people at Charlotte has resulted to lot of issues of climate change and advised that we must stop the indiscriminate use of lands because he said, it is bad for us as a nation and spoke about the determination of the ministry to plant more trees in that vicinity to protect the environment.
The Executive Director for Climate Change, Environment & Forest Conservation Consortium Sierra Leone (CEFCON-SL), Haja Kaday Sesay said there are no go areas where nobody is allow to construct or build a house. He said the catchment area has dried up as a result of the massive deforestation. She said their role as Civil Society Organization, is only to observe the process.
Representative of the NPAA, Ben Lamin said the mission was to reclaim all acclaimed Government lands from land grabbers and discussed on the important to allow regeneration of forest. He said the Land Use Conference which was held in Freetown aimed at reclaiming all Government lands in the Western Area.
The Deputy Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security, Sahr Kelly said they wanted to plant more trees to increase forest cover and described the exercise as a follow up of the national land policy and buttressed that we are experiencing acute water shortage in Freetown as a result of indiscriminate human activities on our lands.
Senior Environment Officer from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Shaka Saccoh called on Dr. Sandy to stop all construction work in the protected areas and spoke on the essence to prevent disaster by allowing the right thing to be done in our environment.
By Abdulai Mento Kamara
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