July 4, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Residents of peninsula communities in the Western Area Rural District have been warned by the Local Unit Commander (LUC) of Adonkia Police Division to stop illegal sand mining.
Supt. Ambrose Sovula issued the warning while on tour to the communities last Thursday. He also revealed that sand mining was permitted in only two peninsula communities – Hamilton and John Obey.
Supt. Sovula noted that the rate and spate of illegal sand mining along peninsula beaches has potential to cause flooding and other environmental harm to those communities.
Addressing tipper drivers at Levuma community centre, Supt. Sovula said no tipper is allowed to Baw-Baw and Sussex villages to buy or mine sand. He said he had learnt that most drivers are in the habit of clandestinely going to these communities at night to mine and collect sand dunes.
“We have mounted checkpoints at Mile 13 to protect Guma Valley Water Company dam, prevent deforestation and illegal sand mining. Also, we have been receiving complaints from CSE and the Chinese, who are on construction exercises, that the tipper drivers and other people have been stealing the granites, iron rods and sand. They transport them at night when the place is quiet,” he said.
The police superintendent reiterated recent weather forecast that heavy rain, flooding, and cholera outbreak were expected in Sierra Leone during this raining season.
“These are some of the reasons that we need to protect our communities. If flooding takes place our houses will be sunk, our communities and our cemeteries will be wiped out. The village heads should stop their people from mining at these communities, they should prevent all tipper drivers from collecting sand dunes from their villages,” he said at Sussex village community centre.
He urged youth in both villages to be vigilante in protecting their environment.
Acting headman of Sussex village, Donald Clay, recalled that when they were growing up in the village there was no sand mining, adding that their main occupation was fishing and that residents have deviated from that activity and resorted to illegal sand mining.
He said Sussex is a touristic area but human activities are causing loss of value to these areas. He added that few years ago WHH supported them to put up structures at the beach but because of illegal sand mining, those structures have been demolished.
A representative of the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC) said the council does not issue permit to anyone to mine sand in their communities, adding that anyone who wants to mine sand for the construction of dwelling houses in the community should first seek permission from the village headman.
Sallay Thorpe, chairlady of Sussex village, accused the police of conniving with illegal sand miners to mine sand at Banga Farm and Lebbie Farmy. She noted that for illegal sand mining to stop, the Police should stop conniving with the perpetrators.
Reacting to that claim, Supt. Sovula said he had transferred one police officer because he was involved in a sand mining case. “I will never compromise with any officer that is caught in illegal sand mining activities. I want you to report any police officer who is caught in illegal sand mining to me,” he said to inhabitants of Sussex village.
At Baw-baw community centre, the police superintendent said illegal sand mining destroys touristic sites. “I have repaired two vehicles at the police station and we will have to respond to distress calls at any time. The police should not be everywhere at the same time but the inhabitants of the villages should patrol the beaches and do citizen’s arrest of anyone caught doing illegal sand mining and hand them over to the Police,” he appealed.
The deputy village headman at Baw-Baw, Theophilous Walker, pledged to alert the police if he saw any illegal sand mining activity in the village.
Meanwhile, Western Rural Youth Council Chairman, Joseph Jalloh, and his project officer Alhassan Kanu, promised to engage their members to abstain from illegal sand mining in the peninsula communities.