July 19, 2016 By Joseph S. Marga
The appearance of seaweeds on the Hamilton beach has seriously hindered sand mining activities in the village, according to locals.
Hamilton, in the Western Area Rural District, is one of two villages that the government has given permission for sand mining to take place, the other being John Obey village.
But the emergence or rather re-emergence of the environmental unfriendly seaweeds in recent weeks has barricaded the means of livelihood for many unemployed Sierra Leoneans.
Currently, sand mining activities in the village only take place once a week – on Mondays – instead of every day as previously.
According to Allieu Sesay, Secretary General of ‘Tamaboro’ group, which is one of the groups that mine sands at the beach, with the emergence of seaweeds they could only mine 30 truckloads of sand per day instead of 100 when the beach was free of the yellowish, offensive smelling weeds.
When quizzed about the time the seaweeds appear on the beach, Sesay said the phenomenon now occurs both during the dry and rainy seasons.
He said now they used to mine sand at the beach every day of the week, until the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) some time ago put a stop to that, in abid to allow the sand to replenish.
Asked if their activities will not lead to flooding in the village, he said the beach is far away from the village, thus their activity would not cause flooding or any adverse environmental effect on the village.
Chairman of the Sierra Leone Motor Drivers Union at Hamilton village, Ibrahim Kanu, lamented that because of the seaweed invasion, truck are being trapped in the sea, adding that sand miners are also finding it difficult to mine because there are seaweeds everywhere on the beach.
“This is one of the two recommended beaches that we are permitted to bring our tippers when the miners are mining sand. If the beach is overtaken by seaweed then our members are going to be out of job. So we want the government to intervene in this matter,” he said.
When asked about the accusation that his members are engaged in transporting sand from illegal sand miners, he accused the Police of complicity. He added that miners have a depot where they put the remainder sand every Monday, which they sell to their customers on other days they are not permitted to mine.
“When the Police see the tippers transporting sand on days that no mining activity takes place, they think that there is an illegal mining going on in some of the beaches. We have explained to them times without number and it is only now that they are beginning to understand our operations,” he said.
He disclosed that one of the problems that they are encountering is the bad road network to the Hamilton beach, adding that the Waterloo Council and Drivers Union have recently put granite on the road leading to the beach, but that much still needs to be done.
Headman of Hamilton village, Morlai Conteh, said the seaweeds have not only taken over the beach at Hamilton but all other beaches in the Freetown peninsula.
He lamented that the seaweeds have disturbed both sand mining and fishing in the community, adding that their emergence had cause hunger as many locals depend on activities on the beaches and sea for the livelihood.
Meanwhile, he said the seaweed invasion had undermined revenue collection in the village because sand miners, fishermen, and truck drivers give a small percentage of revenue for the development of the village. He added that revenue generation has dipped as a result.