By Mustapha Jallow
Officials of the Brikama Area Council (BAC) on Thursday handed over a cheque amounting to D3,568,525.00 (three million, five hundred and sixty-eight thousand, five hundred and twenty-five dalasis) to four affected mining communities.
The beneficiary communities are, Gunjur, Sanyang, Pirang, and Kartong Ward. The cheque was presented to 4 councillors from these communities by BAC Chairman during a ceremony held at BAC headquarters on 12th August 2021.
The project is focused on empowering women, improving access to healthcare facilities, enhancing the movement of people, good services. The event was attended by senior government officials, staff of BAC, a chief, governor of WCR, councillors and community members.
“I call on all beneficiary communities to work together with their councillors to make sure these funds are used according to the content of the ward project that was presented to us by your ward councillors. These funds should not be diverted to another project, but it should be used based on the project presented to us,” remarked Mr Sheriffo Sonko, Chairman of BAC, while delivering his welcoming statement.
“We have also agreed to share this amount to the affected areas, where mining is taking-place legally – according to the ward project presented to us by the ward councillors. We shall continue with this in the near future as we receive more funds from geology department,” Mr Sonko said.
He further explained that t is no doubt that the money is theirs because whatever geology is collecting from the quarries is from west coast region, saying they have to get what belongs to them. He said it was based on that reason that the council together with the Ministry of Lands was able to engage with Geology Department to make sure they allocate part of the funds they recovered from their quarries to the communities.
Modou Jonga, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BAC said this was in fulfillment of their obligation upon receipt of the funds from the government to disburse the funds to communities within where operation was taking place, adding this is also in line with a Memorandum of Understanding on Royalty signed in 2019.
As per this MoU, he explained 50% of the proceeds is allocated to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for national development, 25% allocated to the Department of Geology, 20% of the proceeds for implementation of development projects for communities affected by operations in quarries and 5% allocated to the National Environment Agency (NEA) for the cost of environmental monitoring.
“A total of seven (7) community priority projects are duly identified by the respective ward development committees for Gunjur, Kartong, Pirang, Sanyang and further re-prioritized by the management,” said Jonga.
These identified projects, according to him, includes – the rehabilitation of the women garden project in Berending in Kombo south district, electricity expansion project in Kartong, rehabilitation of Kartong Badala fish smoking center, electricity expansion in Pirang Darusalaam Kabilo, rehabilitation of a major feeder road connecting Tanjeh to Lamsarr, electricity expansion within three Kalibos in Gunjur and construction of admission wards for a health post in Sambuyaa.
For his part, Lamin Sanneh, the Governor of West Coast Region said: “We want to have more of these things (projects) in the region. We also want this across the board.”
Speaking on behalf of beneficiary communities, Baba Bojang, VDC Chairman Pirang-ward, assured the council of their readiness and commitment to fully implement the projects according to the stipulated terms and conditions highlighted.
“We urge the council to support the capacity development of VDCs through training to enable them carry out their roles and functions effectively and efficiently,” he urged.