Mistrust among people of Faraba caused loss of 3 lives, injuries

Friday, November 30, 2018

The root cause of the Faraba incident on June 18 2018 emanated as a result of mistrust within the people of Faraba Banta, according the Faraba Banta Commission Inquiry report, which was released earlier in the week.

The report indicates a great mistrust existed within a cross section of people within the village, coupled with negligence shown by some agents of the National Environment Agency as well as the impression created by National Assembly Select Committee on Environment that was misconceived by the residents played a key role that led to the standoff. The mistrust compounded when Julakay Limited was granted license. 

Here are the findings by the Commissionon circumstances that led to the standoff at Faraba Banta.

There exists resentment among the Village Development Committee (VDC), the youths, and many villagers of Faraba Banta that a license was issued to Julakay Ltd without consultations;

There was a great mistrust and poor relationship between some villagers and the VDC on one hand, the Alkalo, Mr Noha Kujabi, the Chief Fansu Jung Conteh, and the Council of Elders on the other hand. This prior poor relationship became worse after Julakay Ltd was granted a license to mine sand in the village by the Geological Department (GD) on 10 July 2017 without prior consultations with all key stakeholders in the village;

The poor relationship between the villagers/VDC and the Alkalo was further exacerbated by the fact that the Alkalo does not ordinarily reside in Faraba Banta and is not readily available or accessible when he is needed to perform official duties in the village; the council of elders felt the VCD were disrespectful and took law unto themselves;

There was a perception among some villagers and the VCD that the Alkalo, the chief and the Council of Elders supported the granting of a mining license to Julakay Ltd. because of personal favours extended to them by the latter. This perception was reinforced by the fact that the Alkalo signed an MOU with Julakay Ltd. on behalf of the village without consulting the villagers including the VDC;

There was no proper environmental impact assessment conducted in the area to be mined as required by law before the granting of the mining license to Julakay Ltd. nor were the sufficient safeguard to ensure restoration of the mining activities as required by law;

The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the GD did not clearly demarcate the mining area under the license granted to Julakay Ltd. or communicate this demarcation to the VDC or the villagers;

Both the NEA and the GD disregarded the concerns of the VDC and the villagers regarding potential adverse effects of commercial mechanical and mining might have on the environment and the livelihood especially rice cultivation and gardens in the affected area;

There were no attempts by either NEA or the GD to allay the fears of the VCD and the villagers about these environmental concerns;

The site granted to Julakay Ltd. had the potential of adversely affecting the rice fields and gardens of the women farmers of the village and that these ‘faros’ were worsened especially after the area originally allocated to Julakay Ltd. was increased by the GD from 3.4 hectares to 8.1 hectares;

There is no evidence that the companies that mined sand in the affected areas had made any attempts to restore and/or level the landscape to near its original state;

There is no evidence that either NEA or the GD followed up to ensure that restoration of the mining sites was carried out by previous companies that mined sand at Faraba Banta;

The VDC was also involved in unauthorised commercial sand mining activities in the area and that this vested interest on the part of the VDC could have been likely reason for their objection to sand mining by Julakay Ltd. notwithstanding that they also had legitimate concerns about the adverse effects of sand mining on the environment by the latter;

The intervention by the National Assembly Select Committee on the Environment (NASCE) to the extent that they conveyed an impression to the disputing parties that they could suspend sand mining activities by promising to instruct the GD to suspend the mining activities of Julakay Ltd. pending their investigation into the matter added the confusion;

The impression created by NASCE was misconceived by the VDC and some villagers that Julakay Ltd. was effectively ordered by the NASCE to cease all mining activities pending the resolution of the matter by the NASCE;

When the villagers saw trucks being loaded with sand on the morning of 18 June 2018, they believed that Julakay was defying a legitimate order from the National Assembly to cease operations until further notice; and

That as a result of all the above including the already sour relationship between the VDC, and the Alkalo and others, the granting of the mining license to Julakay Ltd. without consultations, the lack of transparency in the execution of the MOU between Julakay Ltd. and the alkalo, the intervention by the NASCE, and the deployment of the PIU personnel at the mining site, the resentment and tension erupted into a bloody confrontation between some residents of Faraba Banta and the PIU personnel leading to the fatalities, injuries and the wanton destruction of the properties in the village.

Author: Sankulleh Gibril Janko