Addax urged to review land lease agreement


May 7, 2018 By Elizabeth A. Kaine

Sierra Leone Network on the Right to food (SiLNoRF) has urged the management of Addax Bioenergy and the relevant authorities to review land lease agreement they had signed in Bombali and Tonkolili districts.

Speaking last Friday at Focus 1000 headquarters in Freetown, National Coordinator for SiLNoRF, Mohamed S. Conteh, said the lease agreement between the company and chiefdom councils have been due for review since May 2017, but the company has been dragging their feet.

“As it stands without a renegotiated agreement, Addax Bioenergy is operating illegally and that is a clear manifestation that the company is indeed engaged in land grabbing,” he said.

He averred that although the company claims to have sent a copy of the lease agreement to the chiefdom council to initiate the review process, they should realise that they have an obligation to ensure that the lease agreement is urgently reviewed.

Conteh noted that even at the time when the agreement was valid, the company breached its content in two different ways as they are yet to pay fifty percent (50%) of annual land lease fee to both the central and local government.

He added that the company even went further to take over land belonging to communities, thereby depriving them of farming activity, contrary to the terms of the lease agreement.

“The landowners should have the free-will to choose the lawyers that will represent them and that does not in any way exonerate the company from honouring their obligations to pay for that representation,” he noted.

Santigie Sesay, Public Relations Officer of  SiLNoRF, called on ADDAX to ensure that the renegotiation process is all-inclusive, in a bid to ensure it is a full-fledged ‘free, prior and informed consent.’

Sesay maintained that the new lease agreement must not give ‘exclusive rights’ to the company because such could render landowners strangers in their own land.

In May 2010, Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone Limited signed a land lease agreement with the chiefdom councils of Mala, Makari Gbanti and Bombali Sebora, giving the former exclusive right over fifty-seven thousand  (57,000) hectares of farmland for fifty (50) years to grow sugarcane for the production of ethanol for sale in European market.