former executive director of the National Environmental Agency (NEA), on
Tuesday August 14, appeared before the Faraba Commission to shed light on the
procedures of Environmental Impact Assessment.
Momodou B. Sarr in his testimony disclosed in details the process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), adding that there are certain projects that are compulsory to the EIA such as; bridges, factories, agriculture projects, major roads, large scale projects, industrial complexes, housing estates and sand mining as well.
“When you want to do mining business you should visit Geology Department and then explain what your plans are and the area you want to do mining,” he told the commission.
“There is a screening form NEA will give to the Geology Department and this forms are available at the Ministry of Works which is compulsory and have to be filled with a developer.’’
After the form is filled, he went on, it is then sent back to NEA, saying when the form is received by the NEA, then they would look at the screening form, then based on the information provided; they would decide if the project needs EIA or not.
Sarr maintained that after all the due process, the final reported is sent to the executive director for approval.
He noted that when EIA is ready for a mining, there is a working group at NEA that comprises various institutions ranging from the Agriculture, Geology Department, Ministry of Works, Soil and Water Management among others.
The relevant stakeholders, he said, would meet with the developer concerning the issue, saying the questions about how the individual plan to do his operations will be raised.
“These are the procedures and guidelines that are used in order to help layman in the community to understand the procedures been used.”
Sarr further noted that there are a lot of questions that NEA would write for terms of reference for study and the developer has to answer all those questions in details.
According to him, the report that contains the questions and answers would be sent to the Geology Department to hire a consultant which should be an independent and qualified person.
He pointed out that it is also a requirement and compulsory that the consultant should conduct a meeting with the community and answers questions pertaining to their concerns.
Sarr said when a report is written based on the template provided from the working group, after answering all the questions, then a draft report is sent to NEA and another copy is sent to the community, so that the community will know that there is a mining operations to start in their community.
The former NEA boss revealed that at the NEA level, if they feel that the consultant did not cover all the gaps during his/her consultancy, then NEA would take the responsibility to visit the community and make sure they are well informed.
However, before the draft report will be approved, Sarr indicated that it should be published or announced in public so that the community will be aware of any activities in the community, so that they can add their own opinion on the final plan.
Geology and NEA, he went on, work as a team in order to make sure that all that is required are put in place before any official approval is made.
Sarr said that there are always benefits based on agreement and mutual understanding between the community and any stakeholder that wants to do mining activities or other operations in a community.
Sarr, who obtained double Master’s at the University of Stockholm, in Sweden, on Environmental Science and Health, and Geology, has worked with the Geology Department as a senior geologist from 1994 to 1995.
He was later transferred to the National Environment Agency (NEA), where he rose to the rank of Executive Director from 2003 to 2013.