Tuesday, October 4

Kartong warns Geology not to grant licence to mining companies

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Residents of Kartong village in the West Coast Region have called on the Geology Department under the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy not to grant a mining licence to any sand mining company to mine in their territory, describing sand mining as a disaster to them.

Kartong residents reacted following the National Environmental Agency (NEA) grant of mining approval to Gam Quarry Mining General Trading Company to mine in their territory.

It could be recalled that the former government issued licences to mining companies to mine at Kartong from 1996-2001, 2008-2009, and 2015.

Those previous mining sites had now turned to ditches and contained stagnant waters. It has also become breeding grounds for crocodiles and snakes, according to villagers of Kartong.

According to residents, some children had even submerged in those ditches.

During a meeting on Saturday, some residents protested against mining in their territory.

Hatap Jaiteh, the spokesperson for Kartong Village Development Committee (VDC), said: “We do not want the Geology Department to give a mining licence to any mining company to mine in our territory because about 99 percent of the residents do not want any company to mine in our territory.”

“Therefore, we are calling on the Geology Department not to grant a mining licence to any company. This is a threat to our security, livelihood, and betterment of our future generation.”

He said that the previous mining site had now become a breeding ground for reptiles such as crocodiles and snakes.

These, he added, are risky in the environment. “Some children had also died in those previous mining sites,” he added.

Representing the village head of Katong, Kebba Touray, said the meeting aims to maintain peace and development in the community. However, he added that the elders of Kartong say ‘no to sand mining in our territory.’

Buba Kuwameh Jarju, the chairman of the VDC said: “We have received information that NEA has issued approval to Gam Quarry Mining General Trading Company to mine in our territory.”

He argued that no company would be allowed to mine in their territory. He justified that mining would harm the community.

“If the sand mining company is allowed to mine here (in Kartong), there would be lots of ditches that would be detrimental to the community,” he said.

He recalled that in the past, residents of Kartong advised the Geology Department to end sand mining in their terrain but another company has now been issued a licence to mine there, saying “we are acting to stop the attempted mining to avoid repetition of the past.”

Khaddy Manneh, a representative of the women said: “We (the women of Katong) do not like mining in our community. Our sons were jailed here as a result of the mining and previously our children have died in the mining sites.”

She warned against any company mining on the outskirts of the village.

Sulayman Manneh, an elderly person of Kartong, argued that there are several minerals in their lands from which outsiders are selling for millions of dollars whereas the community does not benefit from those resources.

“Are we going to allow them to mine in our territory,” no…” the audience shouted. He therefore urged the residents to stand firm in protecting their territory against environmental degradation.

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