Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 March 2021:
On Tuesday, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Dr. Turad Senesie visited the Mount Sugar Loaf Community, where a major landslide caused by heavy rains and soil erosion in 2017 killed over a thousand people, most of whom where children sleeping in their beds.
Speaking to residents and community stakeholders the minister emphasised the need to preserve and protect state land and forest reserves.
The Lands Minister was accompanied by his colleague Minister in the Ministry of Environment and senior management staff of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministries of Environment, and Lands, Housing and Country Planning.
During the community meeting, it was exposed that certain community members are conniving with strangers to encroach on State Lands and engage in forest degradation activities.
Minister Turad Senesie sounded a stern warning for perpetrators to desist from such illegal and disastrous ventures. He said that defaulters will be subjected to the full force of the law.
According to the minister, consultations and negotiations will always be the first approach ahead of the implementation of the tough laws that protect State land, the environment, lives and properties.
“No one should take advantage of the human face governance approach of the new direction government as the law will fall heavily on anyone who engages on illegal activities,” he cautioned.
He called on the community youth to take responsibility and protect their community from encroachers, noting that they should not allow illegal human activities to endanger their lives and properties.
The Minister of the Environment, Prof. Foday Moriba Jaward reminded the community that the government is concerned about the rise in negative human activities that are threatening the lives and properties of citizens.
It is because of the seriousness the government attaches to human and environmental safety that an inter-ministerial committee was set up to preserve and protect the environment, the minister said.
The inter-ministerial committee is comprised of the Ministries of Environment, Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Water Resources, Internal Affairs, Tourism, Defence and Local Government.
According to the Environment Minister, the government will ensure the use of every legal authority to safeguard the environment.
Residents said they will collaborate with the government to ensure illegal activities in the Mount Sugar Loaf community will become a thing of the past.