By Jariatu Bangura
Members of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Lands, Country Planning and the Environment this week slammed four companies – Grafton Spring Water, Magram, Sierra Leone Brewery and Rainbow Paints – for flouting the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Act of 2010.
The charge primarily relates to the companies operating without acquiring environmental license, as stipulated by the Act.
According to Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Jusufu B. Mansaray, the laws of the country should be adhered, especially those relating to environmental hazards in the areas the companies operate, adding that before companies start operations they should first apply for license from Agency, to operate legally in the country.
He said most companies operating in the country regularly flout the laws of the country and that they should pay a penalty for any such breach.
Hon. Mansaray maintained that the issue of the environment is of great concern to lawmakers, but although an environmental law was enacted 2004 and amended in 2010, yet some companies do not comply with those laws, rendering residents of their areas of operation vulnerable.
Hon. Hassan Sesay said all companies operating in the country have an obligation to adhere to rules and regulations enshrined in the law book.
He noted that although Grafton Spring Water has been operating in the country for over fifteen years, they have failed to comply with rules which govern their operations.
Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally advised officials of the defaulting company that before they commence business operations in the country they should be guided by laws.
Sales and Marketing Officer at Grafton Spring Water, Edwin Frazer, said the company was not aware of EPA regulations and that it was only in 2013 that they started the process of obtaining a license, adding that they only went to the Standard Bureau and the Ministry of Health for their products to be examined.
On his part, Personnel Manager of Rainbow Paint Factory, Emmanuel Simbo, denied they were negligent in not taking a license, blaming EPA staff for failing to effectively carry out their mandate, as dictated by law, and that they were not guided by the Agency when the law was promulgated.
However, Syl Kamara retorted that the Rainbow Paint factory has been negligent in their compliant regime, as was evident in their being dragged to court for failure to comply with the law.