Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 April 2022:
Last Saturday, President Dr Julius Maada Bio visited the Guma Valley Dam at Mile 13 in Freetown to see the massive deforestation taking place in the area to make way for community settlements, and called ordered the re-establishment of the Western Area Forest Green Belt and an immediate investigation into the activities of the Ministry of Lands and Housing following accusations of maladministration and corruption.
Last week, the Sierra Leone Telegraph published an article by the Mayor of Freetown – Mrs Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, calling on the government to take immediate action to stop the destruction of the forest reserve along the Freetown Peninsular causing massive deforestation and environmental degradation.
Guma Valley Water Company relies principally on this single source, the Guma Dam and the Guma Water Treatment Plant at Mile 13, with over 90% of the total water supply to over 1.5 million people in the capital, Freetown.
The President said the aim of his visit was to get first-hand experience of the enormity of the threat to the water source and to provide the required political leadership to lawfully prosecute and punish those responsible for deforestation and land grabbing around the water catchment areas.
He added that the ongoing encroachment of the Western Area Forest Green Belt area of the Guma Valley Dam facility is an environmental concern that should be stopped immediately.
“The Western Area Forest Green Belt area is an implementation of Parliament. So, the land is protected by law. This is very annoying and concerning. All those who are responsible should face the law. This is an existential threat that will not be tolerated. We are going to re-establish the Greenbelt and protect it,” he emphasised.
President Julius Maada Bio also urged the police and military to work with the relevant stakeholders to enforce law and order around the facility, saying that they should engage the village headmen to restore and protect the environment and the water catchment areas.
“In as much as we want everyone to build homes, we should do it within the confines of the law. Guma is a major source of water supply to Freetown. Encroachment into the land will limit the fetch and storage of water to the city. If you undermine the environment, it will not protect you,” he concluded.
It’s common knowledge in Sierra Leone that illegal logging is a phenomena in Sierra Leone that is way out of control.The laws are there but like any public institutions in Sierra Leone the regulatory frame work and those task to see the job through is none existence.The surge of illegal logging in Sierra Leone and the environmental impact on the our country’s landscape is an open wound that cannot be plastered over by gimmicks and halfway house statements made by President Bio that finally the gloves are off and he is ready to take the fight to the Cowboys that are controlling this illegal trade that have caused so much misery for ordinary people that are suffering as a results of their illegal actions.Now unless Bio set up a fully functional and equipped funded forestry stewardship , and given stricter regulatory powers and guarded by a management that is given a clearer set of mandates to reverse the deforestation trend that is upon us ,chances are we will never get to grips of how we can overcome this problem.Illegal logging is the action . Deforestation is the end results of that activity.
Bio answers or his proposal on how to end this illegal damage to our rain forest by visiting Guma Valley Dam at mile 13 , shows how out of touch he has become on the environmental issues affecting our country .Clearly this president is on a learning curve.And if you want to summed up our country’s problems , look no further.We have a pupil as a president .One can only pull that off in planet Sierra leone .He never learns and never grows up.when it comes to fighting this illegal trade , the army and the police are of no use .We need a specially trained forestry army , that is well trained and equipped for that task alone. It seemed to me Bio is always one foot behind the real champion of fighting against the environmental degradation our country is going through especially the mangroves around the Freetown peninsula, which Mayor Akin Sawyer highlighted last week.
Not to be out done this is Bio’s answer to that Op-end by the Mayor. Bio have played lip service to the environmental disasters facing our country .Suddenly the arsonist is turning to a fire fighter .Not a lot of sensible Sierra Leoneans that have seen their homes and lives turned upside down due to flooding will buy the Bio ‘BIG LIE ‘ finally he is taking actions against this criminals in our midst .As all his promises let’s wait and see .
Good move, keep it up your Excellency, we need to restore law and order for the betterment of our beloved nation and the world as a whole.