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Unregulated sand mining destroying Sierra Leone coastal line

Unregulated sand mining destroying Sierra Leone coastal line

An official meeting was held Monday 19th March at Hamilton Community Centre, called by the Honorable MP Dauda JB Kallon on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone to discuss the topic of Sand Mining. There were representatives from the Council, the Drivers Union, the Environmental Protection Agency, Community Stakeholders, Village Heads, Responsible Tourism advocates and investors in attendance to discuss a topic that has been causing a destruction on the peninsula for decades.

The outcome of this meeting was the formation of a committee made of up stakeholders from all interest groups who would begin to tackle the unregulated mining. It was unanimously decided that all sand mining would halt for a waiting period until the committee can decide on a sustainable strategy with which to move forward.

Honorable Kallon has said, “ I am happy with the progress and very grateful to the police and all stakeholders who collectively agreed to a waiting period until the mining can be restructured to an environmentally friendly approach, inline with the government investment policy.”

Up until now there has been very little in the way of regulating the amount of trucks loading up sand for sale in Freetown. The Vice-Chairman of the Tipper Drivers Union gave a rough estimation of the number of lorries who pay Le20,000 per trip to both the community and the local council. It seems approximately 100 trucks have been making multiple trips every day except for Sunday. Proving that this business is extremely lucrative for some while destroying future employment potential for others.

Daniel McAuley a representative from Responsible Tourism Community Group who is a member of this newly formed committee stated, “The initiative is good to address how to manage sand mining on the peninsula. It will be important to look into alternative livelihoods for communities and eco-tourism would be ideal. We have to look for transparency and accountability for the resources we have. I seriously hope this is enforced and that partnerships are formed with communities to support enforcement.”

Albert a fisherman at John Obey, the beach that has recently been the source of much of the sand for the construction boom, is very happy to see a stop in sand lorries. However, Albert recognizes that an abrupt halt to sand mining has left quite a number of youths without a source of income.  On the other hand Saidu, another local from John Obey, is very excited to begin earning from tourism again as the first outing in a while will be held on the beach previously reserved for mining today.

Tribewanted, an eco-tourism project based at John Obey, have said they are very happy to see action from the government and they are hopeful that a sustainable solution can be found to protect the tourism potential of Sierra Leone which, if managed correctly, has the power to provide long term employment for a great number of people. As foreign investors it’s very positive to see progress to protect investments and the ruling party slogan ‘Action Pass Intention’ is more than just a motto.

Today’s meeting in Goderich will hopefully find a solution and balance whereby the natural beauty of Sierra Leone can be protected for enjoyment and tourism and the construction can continue with good quality sand. This compromise would address the question of livelihoods and create increased employment opportunities for youths.

Eimer Peters

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