7,000+ Youths Employed Sierra Leone Timber Association Chairman Confirms
The National Chairman of the Import and Export Timber Association Sierra Leone, Mr. Abass Janneh has confirmed to newsmen in an exclusive interview at his Calaba Town office in Freetown that the association has employed over 7,000 young people across the country in various timber logging activities.
He expressed happiness that his dream to help Government efforts in reducing the rate of unemployment among youths in the country is been actualized. He called on the private sector to come together and assist Government in the area of job creation for the jobless.
Mr. Janneh emphasized on the huge revenue they are generating for the Government and called on Government to come to their aid because he said, they wanted to employ more Sierra Leoneans into the business. He described the issue of limited funds to expedite the response to financial matters as a big challenge for the organization.
On the issue of injured timber workers at Kamakwie 1&2, Mr. Janneh said, the moment they received the message at the headquarters office he instructed the Regional Chairman in Kamakwie to find out if the victim was a registered member with full identification but after thorough findings, it was concluded that he (victim) was never register with the association.
Nevertheless, the timber Boss said, they budgeted 1.5 million Leones for the said unregistered victim of the alleged timber accident to pay his medical bills and addressed other issues. He vowed to bring to book association members that connive with outsiders to do illegal timber activities and continued that most of them are forced to join for the association to always be in position to address emergency issues among members with authentic documents and fully paid their monthly subscription.
Mr. Abass Janneh has informed newsmen that to demonstrate their commitment that they care for the sustenance of normal health among their members who fell victims of accidents while in duty.
Speaking at his Calaba Town office in Freetown, Mr. Janneh said, they have created Clinic units in various areas where they are operating to enhance the good health of members and even non-members.
He said they employed nurses who are working and paid salary weekly and monthly in those Clinic Yards across the length and breadth of the country.
The National Secretary General for the Import and Export Timber Association Sierra Leone, Mr. Augustine Jephson Bappie said the Timber Association Sierra Leone was formed in 2006 adding, the first memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 2009 and reviewed in 2013. He said the MOU is the statutory document that regulates the timber association in Sierra Leone and further explained that they report to the Forestry Division under the Ministry of Agriculture. Mr. Bappie said monitoring forests to prevent illegal timber activities is one of their functions.
He discussed that they are very much mindful of the danger of deforestation and proffered that, that is the reason they are not only planting more trees to replace the cut down trees but they are only cutting sticks which are designed for local and international market, unlike charcoal burners that are cutting all sort of sticks for trading purpose. He spoke on the number of jobless young people who are now surviving in the process and lamented on the revenue they have created for the Government. He pointed out that in 2013, they planted sixty hectares in the northern region as well as other parts of the country.
He spoke on the importance to use the forest to create sustainable development and mentioned that mining and urbanization are also factors of deforestation. He said they are not only partnering with the Drivers Union but they also told drivers never to tolerate anybody to sit in a loaded timber truck. The association’s mouthpiece maintained that they would never allow or employ underage in to any timber activity.
He expressed pity to those who are abandoned after accident because they are not registered members to the association. In that regard, the Secretary General said he wanted to meet with the traditional bone specialist herbalist in Kamakwie 1&2 who reports says, he has created a unit to cure patients with bone problems. He described timber activities as very difficult to handle.
By Alhassan Bangura
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