By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament have enacted the Environment Protection Agency Act, 2022 with major amendments geared towards providing effective and efficient protection and management of the environment.
It could be recalled that Parliament on Tuesday 16th November, 2021, debated and committed the Bill entitled: “The Environment Protection Agency Act, 2021” to the Legislative Committee for further scrutiny.
According to the chairman of the Legislative Committee, Hon. Abdul Marray Conteh they did what they could as a committee to make sure the bill stands the test of time.
He submitted that the whole House looks into the work done so far and enact the long awaited bill into an Act for the benefit of the environment and the people.
In his statement before the enactment of the bill, Minister of the Environment, Prof. Foday M. Jaward said the Bill was in line with the agenda of the African Union and that of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in relation to the protection of the environment.
He said the country has been ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world and that urgent remedial action should be taken to reduce exposure and vulnerability as a country. He also called for the review of existing laws for the purposes of environmental protection.
He disclosed that they have already done some vital changes that will help improve the new Act towards addressing climate change, adding that they did some changes on the administration, fines and penalties, power to prosecutors, which were lacking in the previous Acts.
Minister Jaward maintained that emerging issues of environmental concerns are very dynamic,citing the 2010 EPA Act that was now outdated and cannot address those issues.
He added that the Act needed to be updated to meet international standards and best practice as climate change was not properly addressed in the previous Act.
He further stated that if the bill is enacted, the country will be in a better position to address issues of climate change and the environment and also be placed among countries that are committed towards the fight against climate change and protecting the environment.
He said the scrutiny of the bill into an Act has been a tedious one and has come a long way, but expressed appreciation that they have ended in good faith for the benefits of all.