August 3, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Residents of Malegbeh village in Koya Chiefdom, Port Loko district, have told Concord Times that that Xing Wang Quarry operation very close to their village has destroyed their homes as well as causing them psychological pain.
One of the aggrieved residents, Abu Kamara, told this reporter last Saturday at the village that, his house and toilet were destroyed by granite stone blasting at the quarry, adding that the company has done little or nothing for residents since they started operations.
“All they have been doing is destroying our houses and toilet facilities. The soil here is very soft and whenever they blast the toilet structures automatically sink. Many people in this village have been rendered homeless as a result of the company’s activity,” he claimed.
He added that they have registered their grievances to the operators of the quarry, but that no action has been taken to date.
“All of us here are voiceless, even though we are frustrated, we don’t have the way to attack or stop them from operating. In fact, they blasted on 21st July, 2017 twice and the destruction caused by that blasting was immeasurable,” he further claimed.
Also, another aggrieved resident, Hassan Sesay, told our reporter that the quarry’s operators fetch water from the only stream in the village, but have neither rehabilitated roads nor constructed boreholes to provide alternative water facility for the village.
The victims have called on civil society organisations, the media and government to pile pressure on the quarry operators to repair the damaged structures.
They villagers alleged that they were not given notice as to the operations of the company, adding that they knew about their existence after they started blasting dynamite.
However, John Stone, who is Site Manager at the Chinese-own Xing Wang quarry, denied allegations that they blasted rocks on 21st July, adding that they stopped blasting two weeks before 29th June, 2017 when they closed down operations as a result of the rains.
While the villagers claimed that they have made their concerns known to relevant authorities regarding alleged destruction to houses by the company, Stone denied knowledge of such complaints.
“We would have investigated it and if the claims were true, we would have taken action by repairing their houses. Here, we work with a committee responsible for taking those complaints to us while we act upon them immediately,” he said.
He asserted that whenever they want to blast dynamite, they use megaphone to notify residents 24 hours ahead about the impending operation, albeit tacitly acknowledging that because most houses in the village were constructed with mud bricks many could not withstand the gravity of the blast.
With regards their corporate social responsibility, he claimed they have been awarding scholarship to vulnerable students in the village and that during the month of Ramadan they provided assorted foodstuffs for Muslims who observed the month.