Parliament, EPA discover deplorable working conditions in factories in Western Area
Freetown, June 3 (SLENA) – The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Lands, Country Planning and Environment together with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week made a conducted tour of factories and other agencies to check whether they are in compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted to the EPA for licenses before doing business in the country. (Photo: Chairman & members of the committee)
Some of the factories visited included Dangote, Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA), LEOCEM, MILLA GROUP, Rainbow Paints, Best Food Company and Victory factory in Wellington.
At Dangote’s project site where construction is still ongoing, the committee found out that employees of the company are working under hazardous condition and exposed to serious health problems. Workers had no protective gears while working on the plant in a very dusty environment.
Disappointingly, the General Manager was not around to answer questions from members of the committee.
On a visit to SLPA, the house committee asked the management team about efforts towards monitoring Dangote as landlords who are expected to supervise the operations of both Dangote and Bolore in relation to their commitment to the maintenance of a conduicive working environment.
General Manager of SLPA, Mr. Abu Bangura promised to do all that is humanly possible to see that both companies complied with all agreements endorsed by the two companies on the above subject.
Similar discoveries were made when the committee visited Best Food Factory and Victory factory both of which are engaged in the production of alcoholic drinks of different brands and percentages.
The committee found out that these factories’ sanitary conditions were very poor, and nothing to write home about, not even their corporate social responsibility.
The committee also observed that these two companies have delayed and to some point refused making a public disclosure of the EIA while they continue to do business, which according to the EPA Act, is illegal and against the laws of the country.
It was found out during this visit that some of these alcohol companies are working undercover and using ethanol from Magbass as their raw material.
Chairman of the committee, Hon Jusufu Mansaray said it is heart rendering to find out that some of these companies are really exploiting the county and Sierra Leoneans, who he said, merely want to earn their daily bread.
“They are therefore vulnerable and take up any job that comes their way” noted the Chairman, who warned that the owners of these factories should not take advantage of the peoples’ vulnerability to kill them slowly.
The committee concluded that the defaulting companies will be called before parliament for further investigations.
By Sulaiman Bah
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