By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, has engaged stakeholders in the Western Rural District, on the environmental, social and health impact assessment of the Black Johnson Fish Harbor project.
The public disclosure of the study for the development of industrial fish harbor complex at Black Johnson Community in the Western Rural was held at the Black Johnson Community Centre last Friday, January 13, and also on Saturday January 14, respectively.
Both public events were attended by stakeholders from the Law Officers Department, the security sector and civil society organisations.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Emma Kowa Jalloh, said the project has different stages, which includes payment of compensation to affected land owners and others, which they have already done.
She said one of the stages is the environmental, social and health impact assessment study to ascertain the good and bad impact of the project both on the community and the people.
She said the study had been done and that they were now on the process of engaging the public for everyone to know the good and the bad effects of the project, stating that the project is going help sell out the name of Black Johnson to not only Sierra Leone, but to the globe as well.
She said the project would provide employment to residents of Black Johnson Community and for many Sierra Leoneans, provide other facilities including electricity and other development for the community.
She also said that the harbour project would help the government from losing millions of United States Dollars every year, because government will now be able to track fishing boats and know the amount of fishes caught and the tax they should pay to government.
She said the government is committed and China that is providing the grant is also committed to the implementation of the project for the benefit of every sierra Leoneans.
Representing Law Officers Department, Attorney Yusuf Issac Sesay, said the government has procedures on how they take land for national development, adding that they first need to go through parliament for approval after which the president will endorse.
He said the project will bring employment, development and improve the living conditions of the people of that community, thus, the people should take and treat the project with all seriousness.
Also speaking at the Waterloo event that was hosted at the Rural District Council Hall, last Saturday, January 14, Chief Director at the Environment Protection Agency, Sheku Mack Kanneh, said it is mandatory for environmental and health impact assessment to be done on such a huge project.
He said the reason for the impact assessment study is to know the impact the project will cause to the environment and the health of the people living around where the project is going to be implemented.
In his presentation of the impact assessment study report, Lead Consultant Professor Andrew Christian Baio said the fish harbour project has been categorized as category A, as the harbour Construction is likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts that are sensitive, diverse, or unprecedented.
He presented that those impacts may affect an area broader, and the sites or facilities will be subject to physical works, stating that they have examined the project’s potential negative and positive environmental impacts and compared them with feasible alternatives.
He also presented that the operational phase will interface with several impacting activities including the operation of cold storage facilities for fish processing -Aquatic product processing park and support area, transhipment and local discharge of fish, including on loading and offloading of catches.
He further presented that there is also going to be port inspection controls by government authorities, operation of vessel maintenance areas including syncrolift, operation of ship building and fishing gear repair areas, operation of experimental fish farm, office and residential operations and operation of fish market.