The government of Sierra Leone through the resident minister South, Sierra Tropical Ltd (STL) and resident of Lugbu Chiefdom and its environs in Bo district have demonstrated developmental commitment for the agro-processing project.
This was made known through a public disclosure of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for Sierra Tropical Ltd’s Agriculture Project at the RC Primary School Hall in Sumbuya, Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District, on the 8th August 2018.
Consultant for the ESIA, CEMMATS Group Ltd, Environmental Representative RashiduSinnah explained that the reports they submitted to the Environment Protection Agency – Sierra Leone (EPA-SL) are to be presented to the interested and affected persons at a public consultation and disclosure workshop which he said was the reason they gathered that day as the assessment is now at the stage where the results need to be presented to interested and/or affected persons/parties for discussion and finalization.
This, he added is in compliance with the laws of Sierra Leone, as the project needs to be carried out in a manner that minimizes the potential negative social and environmental impacts and maximizes the benefits.
“This can be achieved through the ESIA Process which the consultant, CEMMATS Group Ltd. (CEMMATS), an experienced Environmental Assessment consultancy with vast experience in conducting similar studies in various sectors locally and internationally, has undertaken.”
Paramount Chief of Lugbu Chiefdom, PC M.A.Nallo spoke about the two rivers that meet in that chiefdom. He expressed happiness for the project and described them as one of the happiest people in Sierra Leone.
He called on his people to embrace the project and the people and to also exclude them from their cultural practices.
“Let us take them as our brothers; they will like to know more about us. Let us safeguard them and ignore any wrong doing they will do with our cultural practices.”
He said they have gone through most of the agreement and they are certified with it but if they have any difficulty they have their Lawyer which will explain to them.
He described the report as one that is going to be one of the best, simple and clear.
PC Nallo resigned his chairmanship position in the committee of Conflict as he puts it in order for them to work clearly between the community and the company.
Sierra Tropical Ltd (STL)Director- Agriculture Andrew Brooke-Smith explained that STL will embark on an agro-processing project involving large scale planting and processing of tropical fruits in Sierra Leone using approximately 15,000 hectares. It is envisioned to be fully integrated from cultivating, growing and harvesting pineapple, mango, papaya and other tropical fruit and processing them into manufactured products.
He continue to say the project will initially grow up to 4,335 hectares of leased land in Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District, and will be implemented in phases, starting with the development of a pineapple nursery, spreading out in phases to eventually cover the maximum area desired and possible.
He said they believe they can grow, learn, prosper and develop together. He promised to help the community developing their dreams and create a brighter future for themselves and their children children’s.
Resident Minister South Mohamed E.K.Allie said he wants to make sure what the company benefits the people and the country.
“The first flagship of this government is free education; follow by agriculture which we are looking forward to the private sector to step in. If we have such company we need to encourage them to stay and stay peacefully which will eventually create rooms for more companies to come.”
He thanked the land owners for giving their lands. He said their first priority is for the company to stay. He added that it is the reason they said anything that happens will be transparent.
“My office will request a copy of the agreement between the land owners and the company. We are talking out of experience from other places which we don’t want to happen in this community. We have the responsibility to be everywhere when people are coming with investment to be part of every agreement.”
He called on the company to look out for people in the community for employment than going out.
“Efficiency is what the new direction is talking about if there is no body suitable for any position they can go elsewhere but the community people must be their first choice that will minimize problem.”
He urged them to be security for the company despite the security they have.
‘’If we allow them to go the community and the nation will lost. The new direction is delivering what the company should do we will make sure they do it. When you receive your money, invest it in a way that will support the family.”
EPA Assistance Director Paul A. Laminin in his key note address said the project warrants a comprehensive ESIA which will depict the associated environmental, social and health impacts of the project as stipulated in the EPA Act, 2008 as amended in 2010.
He said EPA’s role in project is to ensure that the company makes sure that the environment is not destroyed and the people are protected.
“We issue environmental licence through that, we ask people to conduct ESIA. We are acting as intermediary between the company and the people.”
He emphasised that EPA don’t work alone as they have line ministries which they work with to prevent future problems and making sure that those problems faced by other communities is not repeated in that community.
The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study was reported in two volumes titled:
Volume 1 –The Executive Summary and Main Report
Volume 2– Environmental and Social Management Plan
The report was endorsed by the community as most of their concerns were addressed by the government, the Chiefdom Authority and STL representatives.
Statements were also made by Agriculture Ministry District Extension Officer LansanaMarah, STL Company Solicitor, Centus Macaulay, Chairman Bo District Council Joseph M. Bindi, SLIEPA O.I.C. Aiah C. Nyandebo, Honorable for constituency 078 representative Melvin Sammoh.
Presentation was made by CEMMATS Group Ltd Leonard B. Buckle and the workshop was chaired by the Mayor of Bo City Harold Tucker.