Puawui – Dr. Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 May 2021:
In just three years, Sierra Leone has continued to be in the news for the right reasons. That is with the exception of the rubbish that is continually being spat out by Chernor Bah and his so-called Africanist Press. I am sure that every reasonable Sierra Leonean will agree that their motive is to misinform, to ridicule and to expose this government in bad light.
Quite rightly, the SLPP government led by President Julius Maada Bio has refused to be distracted by their unscrupulous propaganda. Only the opposition APC and their blind followers take them seriously.
I do not intend to go into the successful developmental projects undertaken by this government. Armchair critics like Mohamed 3-Drop Sankoh have from time to time criticised the president purely for propaganda reasons, like his recent outburst about president Bio’s overseas trips to his colleagues, when in his words those colleagues have not returned the visit.
Mohamed Sankoh completely ignored the benefit that continues to accrue from such visits but that of course is a slap in his face. But do people like him care when they expose themselves to such ridicule in the hope that they are embarrassing the government?
Agriculture productivity which will ultimately lead to food-self-sufficiency is currently a priority project of President Bio’s government. In the same way the fishing industry is beginning to have a positive impact on our GDP, in addition to providing valuable additional protein to our food security.
I could go on; for example, the proposed Freetown bridge to Lungi, the replacement of outdated colonial ferries with bridges over our rivers will improve travelling and communications beyond measure. (Photo: Dr Sama Banya).
Many people have thought that we should have gone ahead with the Mile-38 airport project. Laudable as the proposal appeared, it would not have the same positive impact as the cumulative benefit of the Lungi bridge.
In the midst of these positive development, comes a press statement that the government has sold or released two hundred and five acres of rainforest and the beach land at Black Johnson Beach to the Chinese, for the purpose of Fish Meal production. In this production process, vast quantity of fish are ground down to make fish pellets for export.
This industrial production according to a group of citizens who are petitioning the government against the proposal is very damaging to the environment. The factories discharge toxic chemicals which destroy the fish breeding ground. This in turn reduces fish stocks for local fishermen as it pollutes both the land and the ocean – killing fish, animals and plants.
The process also wipes out the main local food source. In addition, the industry will pollute the main marine environment and its eco systems that are not only fish breeding grounds but they support wild life species.
Part of the land earmarked is a lagoon during the dry seasons which opens up as a river in the rainy season. The lagoon itself is a breeding ground for many species of fish. It is a nursery from which the young fish then move into the ocean when it opens into a river during the rains and flows into whale bay.
A petition is being sent to His Excellency by the concerned citizens praying on him not to allow this proposed madness. Further information on this matter may be obtained by contacting the Black Johnson landowners group.
Do I need to remind all those who are backing such a proposal of the disastrous environmental impact on our country? Especially the tourism and the very fish industry that it’s supposed to support. Why has no comment been made about any feasibility studies especially its impact on our environment?
Before this article appear in the press, I hope to have interviews with the Minister of the Environment. Our beaches are among the most attractive in the West Coast of Africa. The surrounding forests are an attractive eco-tourism enthusiasts’ delight.
With the construction of the Lungi bridge quite soon, our tourist industry is certain to have an added attraction. A great advantage of the bridge will be that tour groups and ordinary Sierra Leoneans will no longer depend upon the current unsatisfactory ferry services or the expensive Sea Coach and Sea Birds services to get to and from Lungi.
The positive effects are endless; and now some developers with the sole aim of profit plans to pollute both the marine life and the adjacent forest life.
As a founding member and long serving Honorary President of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), I and my colleagues have over the years continued to advocate for the protection, wise and sustainable use of our natural resources. It has been an uphill task, but progress has been steady and President Bio in his wisdom and concern for the environment has created a separate Ministry of the Environment.
Are we going to throw all of this to the wind, just so that we would have a commercial Fish Breeding Industry especially in the area of Black Johnson Beach? My answer is an emphatic No.
I will crave the intervention of His Excellency in order for him to veto the current Fish Breeding proposal. The proponents of the project can look for other areas and bring out suitable feasibility studies.
About the author
Dr Sama Banya is President Emeritus of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone.