The Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone in its strides towards working with policy makers in the country for cogent actions towards environmental safety and security had led Members of Parliament of the Parliamentary Committee on Lands and the Environment to disaster prone areas in the city. Present among the delegation were the Chairman of the Committee on Lands and the Environment, Hon. Quintin Salia-Konneh and the Deputy Director Planning Policy and Research at the Environment Protection Agency, Mr. Sheikh Ahmed Tunis who ably represented the Executive Chairman of the Agency, Dr. Foday Moriba Jaward. The purpose of the visit was to avail the MPs with firsthand information on the disaster caused by the heavy downpour of rain in those affected Communities and to solicit Parliamentary actions.
The delegation visited the Matormeh and the Colbot Communities which were severely affected by the recent mudslide and flooding disasters respectively.
Besides the August 14th 2018 mudslide, the Matormeh/Gbangbayila Community also recently experienced cracks which triggered government officials from the Office of National Security, UNOPS, Sierra Leone Geological Engineers and the Environment Protection Agency to visit the said community and come up with a comprehensive plan of action. During the recent visit by government Officials, Community people were warned to desist from cohabiting around the vicinity of the new cracks.
While at the Matormeh Community on the 20th of August 2019, Mr. Sheikh Tunis informed the Parliamentarians that within the month of August alone, there had been up to three mudslides in the said Community, adding that the entire community has many cracks which the EPASL and government in general is particularly worried about.
Hon. Quentin Salia-Konneh while stressing on the need for the Community people to stay away from the places where cracks have been detected also informed the people that their lives were more precious than anything they could think of on earth. He further reechoed the need for the Community people to adhere to the recommendation of the technical team which had earlier advised them to stay away from disaster prone areas.
The Members of Parliament also used the visit to acquaint themselves properly with more information on the recent disasters and hoped to come up with more concrete actions within the shortest possible time after the recession of Parliament.
The Environment Protection Agency, Sierra Leone (EPASL) has on Thursday 22nd August 2019, suspended the operations of five companies engaged in quarrying activities within the Okra Hill area. The companies are: Great Africa Sierra Leone Limited; Xingwang Business Quarry; Haoxin Quarry; First Investment International Company and Afroaz International (SL) Ltd.
The suspension of operations was due to the refusal by the aforementioned companies to either renew their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) License or complete the process for the acqusition of an EIA license. The Environmental Compliance and Enforcement department of the Agency issued the enforcement notices to each of the companies in accordance with section 53 of the EPA Act and warned that no operations should be undertaken by the affected companies until they have fully complied with the EPA Act and that they have one month to do so. According to the Team Lead, Mr Lamin Tarawalie who is the EPASL Deputy Director of Field Operations and Extension (FOE), the suspension of operations of these companies was geared towards ensuring that those whose activities impact or have a likelihood to impact the environment are effectively monitored to ensure a quality of environment that is safe for all. He further stated that the EPA remains supportive of investors but that investment must not be at the expense of the environment.
The acquisition of an EIA license is a condition precedent. In other words, companies that are engaged in any of the activities slated in the First Schedule of the EPASL Act 2008 as amended in 2010 must first of all acquire their EIA license prior to the commencement of their operations. Under Sec53 of the EPA Act, the EPA has the power to suspend or shut down the operations of companies that are in violation of the Act. The acquisition of an Environmental Impact Assessment License is crucial, as it provides the Agency an opportunity to scrutinize the activities of companies and determine their level of compliance with the EPA Act.
As a responsible Government Agency working hard to ensure that the environment of Sierra Leone is effectively protected for human, plants and animal habitation, the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone has carried out monitoring exercise on Africell facilities in three Chiefdoms in Kailahun District in the Eastern Province.
This monitoring is part of routine activities undertaken by the Agency to
ensure that proponent adhere to guidelines as stated in the Environmental
Management Plan (EMP). It is a standard procedure as per the Environmental Impact Assessment License for the Agency to undertake regular follow up visits to ensure these facilities are managed in accordance with the established environmental best practice.
The monitoring exercise targeted three Africell facilities in Pendembu in
the Upper Bambara Chiefdom, Daru in the Jawei Chiefdom and Nianahun in the Njaluahun Chiefdom. The monitoring was done based on the environmental footprint of Africell focusing on the level of air quality in the facility,noise pollution, waste management, emission, health and safety of staff amongst others. This inspection was conducted by a team of EPASL Staff from the Bo Regional Office and Africell Consultant and Engineers.
In all the stations visited, no significant issue of environmental
consequence was observed; Decibel readings from Noise meter were good, which means that it was at acceptable international standard. This was very important since these stations are situated in nearby residential areas, it was imperative for EPASL to assess how much impact this will have on those resident in the area. Also Emission Tester was used to measure the amount of emission which shows good.
This was largely due to the fact that the generators are fairly new and
regular maintenance is done every two hundred and fifty (250 hrs.) hours. It was observed that waste was properly managed as there was no evidence of waste during the time of visit. Also the storage of fuel was very conducive as it is bonded with hydro carbon trap to control spillage.
However, they were advised to remove the old fuel tank that was no longer in use from the station in Pendembu, display safety signs like “no smoking” in all three stations, display relevant environmental management plan policies, display Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) License and in the near future to transition to renewable energy which are more cleaner, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
This is very significant as the motive of the monitoring team was not only
to identify fault but to also provide professional advice to Africell with the
view to helping them improve on their environmental footprint thereby
mitigating climate change impact.
Moreover, EPASL appreciates strides being put in place by Africell to keep
pace with best practices that ensures sustainable environmental management. All the facilities visited were enclosed in fence and protected by Security Guards.
What was even more significant is the hybrid system Africell has put in place to manage power generated at these stations.
There is a rechargeable battery which keeps power for a couple of hours
which minimizes generator use considerably reducing noise and emission. This is a move that will improve air quality in the areas and mitigate Climate Change Impact.
On the whole, Mr. Syl Kamara a Consultant who works for Africell and was
part of the exercise commended the EPASL for regularly conducting monitoring exercises. He said this will contribute to the sustainable management of the environment and help proponents like Africell improve on its environmental footprint and adhere to best practices that will make the environment conducive for human, plants and animal habitation.
International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer will celebrate on the 16th September 2019.
The Environment Protection Agency will celebrate the Environment Day on the 10 June 2019
EPA-SL will celebrate world GIS day on the 17 May 2019
Environment Protection Agency will celebrate World Environment Day (WED).