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New Mines Policy or old tricks at play?

New Mines Policy or old tricks at play?

It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. This adage can well be ascribed to the All People’s Congress government  in presenting a ‘new’ mining policy, which has been described as having a human face, but which might well be described as faceless.

The position statement by Ministry of Mines, Mineral Resources and Presidential Affairs Alpha Kanu that his new policy has a human face is a veritable untruth which even the artisanal miner in Tombodu, Kono District knows is far from correct.

There is no need hiding the fact that the past APC administration destroyed the mining industry in Sierra Leone through corruption and other undue interference in the workings of the companies engaged in the extraction. The Marampa Mines was brought to a standstill because of the interference of Siaka Stevens in demanding that his government receive a greater share even though everyone knew the percentage was not meant for the country but for his personal aggrandizement. Because of the demand of a one percent share from the APC, thousands of workers found themselves jobless, and the once bustling Lunsar Town overnight became a dead community.

The Sierra Leone Selection Trust was brought to a grinding halt and finally undermined because of the interference of Siaka Stevens and his APC cohorts and this also caused one of the greatest multinational companies, employing over five thousand workers, being laid off.

Under the APC government of Joseph Saidu Momoh, the National Diamond Mining Company, with Mr. Birch Conteh as Mines Minister, employed corrupt means in handing over the company to Jamil Sahid Mohamed, although other established concerns had expressed interest.

All over Sierra Leone, the evidence of the APC’s inability to administer our mining and extractive industry has been a well known information both locally and internationally.

With the coming of the New APC under the leadership of Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, a lot of great expectations had been manifested. The hope was that a new change will occur under the new administration.

Alas, on assuming office, Ernest Koroma appointed Mr. Abu Bakarr Jalloh, a man who contributed to the demise of the NDMC while serving in the management position, as the new mines minister. True to his former habits, Jalloh immediately embarked on maintaining a dubious deal with Frank Timis, a billionaire whose reputation includes setting up hyped up companies so as to gain in the alternative stock exchange. Claims of huge bribes and other perks provided for the then Mines minister were reported but all this did not make the president look into the activities of his mines minister.

It took the action of the international community to bring the dubious works to State House for President Koroma to finally concede that his Mines minister is corrupt and should therefore be sacked. A lot of damage had been done before Jalloh was pulled out of the picture.

With Jalloh gone, the flamboyant but controversial Alpha Kanu, said to be a trained geologist was appointed Mines minister. Kanu, carrying the rather high sounding title of ‘Presidential Affairs’ added to his position has no difference from Jalloh, and like Jalloh, seems to have a special concern for Frank Timis and his Sierra Leone Diamond Company, later known as African Minerals and now known as Marampa Iron Ore Mines.

The government of president Koroma needs to convince the people of Sierra Leone that this is not another game plan to offset the expectations of the people, especially stake holders and communities affected as a result of extraction activities.

The mining policy is said to have a human face, but the government is yet to carry out the recommendations of the Jenkins-Johnston Commission of Enquiry which has been instituted to look into the shootings of peaceful demonstrators and affected properly owners in Koidu Town by police while expressing their dissatisfaction with the Koidu Holdings Company.

Which type of mining policy could have a human face when the human beings shot and killed by security personnel under the auspices of the Koidu Holdings is yet to be looked into as promised by government?

The bottom line is that there is nothing different from the present mining policy that makes it different from other failed policies presented by the APC government.

Appointing friends to head key ministries that have huge impact on the country is not the solution to presenting good government. President Koroma is yet to convince the people of Sierra Leone that he is committed in solving the failed policies in the mines industry which he inherited.

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