He added that only those who don’t have the sustainable development of his community are embarking on such heinous environmental crime.
He relayed this message during a day communal sensitisation (focus group discussion) on Illegal Street Sand Mining and other local environmental problems of the locality. The event was organised by the National Environment Agency in collaboration with the Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Daranka and Kerewan village settlements of the West Coast Region.
Roberts Mendy, Daranka Alkalo
The out spoken environmentalist disclosed that sand is an important mineral for our society in our construction industry and in environmental protection, but hammered that the increase in demand caused the uncontrolled illegal practices of mining in the streets that makes it a serious and threatening environmental issue. “This negative practice is common in the rainy season as the run-off water carries eroded sediments of sand and deposits them in streets, farmlands and other environmental sensitive sites. These deposits among others are the ones not spared by the illegal activity, the act of which renders severe environmental problems to the surrounding and further encourages more erosion within our community,” Alkalo Mendy pointed out.
He said it is in response to this massive illegal sand mining within these communities – Kerewan and Daranka that triggered the National Environment Agency to collaborate with VDCs to embark on that important community Focus group discussion involving all stakeholders including youths and women representatives, religious leaders, councilors and elders of the two villages.
The community dialogue took place at the Daranka Youths Center. The alkalo vehemently challenged stakeholders to jealously guide the scarce natural resource for the current generations and others to follow.
In his deliberation, Lamin Samateh, a senior Environmental Legislation & Policy officer from the NEA called for attitudinal change from the local communities towards what he described as self-destruction exercise of pilling off the remaining sand cover protecting the streets, exposing them to erosion and related disasters. Environmental protection is always helpful to enhance livelihood support systems; he therefore posited that it is incumbent on us all to stop any individual, group or organisation that is engaging in it.
These natural resources, he pointed out, are often exploited unsustainably as the demand is high. It is also coupled with unsustainable practices of exploitation and utilization as well as other important drivers of environmental degradation, that have placed undue pressure on the natural resource base thereby impacting negatively.
Samateh used the opportunity to call on the people to follow the due process of the law if they want to mine sand for their local consumption, but warned that it is a crime to involve in such activities without authentic documentation from the relevant authorities.
In his vote of thanks and closing remarks, the alkalo of Kerewan, Abdoulie Jarju, reiterated that no one must take the law into his/her hand by collecting sand illegally, as the extraction or mining of sand is more likely to have serious ramifications on the environment.