May 9, 2018 By Jariatu S. Bangura
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Coalition for Change party in Parliament yesterday called on the newly approved Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources to thoroughly investigate the extractive industry, noting that little or no gain has been made for the people in mining communities, especially in Kono district.
Hon. Rebecca Yei Kamara represents Constituency 29 in the diamondiferous Kono district. She noted that the mines ministry is important sector that could help change the country’s economic fortune.
However, the female lawmaker said, “The extractive sector cannot point at a single thing that the people have gain. All the mining benefits have been entering into one-man’s pocket, leaving the Kono people to suffer. When you look at the diamond mining, all we can say is that we the people only hear that huge chunks of diamond have been found but when sold the rest is a story. We are ready to support wholeheartedly to seriously look into the issue. We want to help you make the extractive sector comply with the rules and regulations in the Mines and Minerals Act and the Mineral Agency’s Regulations,” she said.
Hon. Kamara, who is the sole female lawmaker from her district, said during the era of past administration a 709 carat of diamond was discovered, but that after sales 40% was given to the founder, while 60% was said to be allocated to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
However, she averred that the beneficiary mining community was yet to receive their own share of the sale, urging that the newly approved Minister of Mines enquires as to the whereabouts of the remaining 60%.
“If these revenues were spent on the lives of the people, there would have been changes. The reports of the EITI – extractive industries transparency initiative -over the years have not been favourable to the people of Kono. There is a huge chunk of funds put into the Community Development Account but the people have not benefited. No proper monitoring is done on it. The funds are not properly accounted for in the Community Diamond Fund. The surface rent paid by the extractive industry only goes into the pocket of certain individuals. We want investigation to be carried out by your regime,” she stated.
She also revealed that whenever mining companies embark on blasting rocks, community people should be relocated, but that the situation in Kono is quite different as they would only ask residents to move away and come back after the blasting is complete.
She said when the community people complained, no action was taken because of ‘orders from above’.
She also urged the new Resident Minister East, Andrew Fatorma, not to cut-off the main roads leading into Kono in the name of searching for diamonds, adding that women, men, youth and the disabled were the most affected in mining communities.
“There are no proper allocations made for them. There is no local content policy applied to them. The expatriates are reaping the benefit rather than the community people. The local people are managing what is given to them because they don’t have anywhere to get a meal. These extractive industries could bring benefit to the local people if proper monitoring is done,” she said.