By Ishmael Dumbuya
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has yesterday 6th June informed pressmen that the Agency is very much committed to ending plastic pollution in the country as it is gradually becoming a global and national health threat.
In his press update, the Director Environment Protection Agency, Sheku Mark Kanneh stated that plastic pollution has become a national threat, adding that there’s hardly a place that you visit in the country that you won’t find plastic littered all over the place.
Director Kanneh noted that the mandate of the Agency is to effectively protect and manage the environment as well as monitor and regulate companies that produce plastic goods, noting that the Agency intends to beat plastic pollution across the country.
He explained that plastic waste is a major problem in the slums bordering Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. Water sachets (commonly used as drinking containers in the country); empty bottles and jerry cans litter the streets and clog up drains, causing flooding in disaster-prone areas.
The director concluded that plastic waste also poses public health issues, as blocked drainage causes water to stagnate and mosquitoes to breed in a region where malaria is endemic. “In times of floods, water contaminated by mud and waste is washed into open drinking water wells and can lead to disease.” He ended.
The Deputy Director, Public Relations and Intersectoral Collaboration, EPA, Ramatu B. Massaquoi, stated that the issue of plastic pollution is so dire in the country that by 2030, the number of plastic in waters will surpass that of fish if not addressed now. She added that it’s as a result of that they have summoned members of the press to help in the spread of the Agency’s message that plastic pollution can destroy the natural habitat as well as degrade it.
The Deputy Director, Natural Resource Management (NRM), Paul Koroma, stated that plastic pollution destroys the natural resources of the country, adding that it was as a result of that the seed weed surfaced on the beaches of Freetown sometimes ago. He added that plastic pollution hampers the natural resource growth in the country, noting that it’s not a good signal for natural and environmental development.
The conference climaxed with a field visit to Orugu Bridge, Jui and Lumley where the West Management Company supported by EPA conducted a plastic picking exercise in those areas, as a way of raising awareness on the hazards’ of plastic pollution. The plastic picking exercise is ongoing till Friday 9th June.