February 25, 2021
A collection of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) constituting the Inter-Ministerial Committee have on the 23rd February 2021 conducted a joint monitoring exercise at the Aberdeen creek, Freetown. The operation came amidst several complaints about the increase in human encroachment into environmentally sensitive areas particularly within the Western Area, resulting in massive depletion of mangrove trees which are home to several marine species.
The MDAs include the Ministries of the Environment; Lands, Housing and Country Planning; Water Resources; Internal Affairs, Tourism and Cultural Affairs; Defence and Agriculture; Environment Protection Agency, National Protected Area Authority and the National Water Resources Management Agency. Leading the team was the Honorable Minister of the Environment, Professor Foday Moriba Jaward who doubles as current Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee. Speaking on the importance of the Aberdeen Creek, Professor Foday Jaward said that Sierra Leone was a party to the 1972 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and that, under the convention, Sierra Leone had an obligation to protect its wetlands.
The Sierra Leone Estuary, which includes the Aberdeen Creek, is the country’s only designated Ramsar site. The Aberdeen Creek has been the scene of intense human encroachment over the years. Consequently, this has occasioned the destruction of a substantial portion of mangroves and a disruption of the ecosystem in and around its precincts.
The Honorable Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Dr. Turad Senesie called on fellow Sierra Leoneans to work together to sustainably manage the country’s natural resources. He stated that collaboration was key in solving the challenges that lay ahead of us. He called on his colleague Ministers to support one another in the course of executing His Excellency the President’s vision for a better Sierra Leone.
The team proceeded to No. 2 River axis, where other similar environmental threats were by no means less visible. At No. 2 River, game guards and NPAA Rangers were urged to work together to forestall any further encroachment into protected areas. Freetown and other settlements around the country are saddled with water shortages particularly in the season and this has been accounted for partly by the incessant cutting down of trees and the indiscriminate construction of buildings in water catchment areas.
Other government dignitaries in attendance included the Honorable Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt, Deputy Minister of Environment, the Deputy Defence Minister, the Executive Chairman of EPASL and the Executive Director of NPAA. This move sends a powerful signal that those who, for their selfish gains, have taken upon themselves to decimate the environment and put human safety at risk, do so at their own peril and that government will stop at nothing to ensure that human encroachment into protected areas is discountenanced.