The Resident Minister East, William Juana Smith, past Saturday led a high powered delegation including the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Sam Sesay to Tunkia chiefdom in the Kenema district. The purpose of the visit was to declare the stance of government on the issue of Bagla hills mining in the Gola Rainforest National Park. In his opening statement as chairman of the meeting, the Resident Minister East, William Juana Smith said both living and non living things in the country belong to the government, and therefore the government of the day has the last decision to make in the interest of the nation.
He appealed to the youths not to take the law into their hands, as there is a channel to make complaints at all times in the interest of peace.
In his welcome address at the Gorahun court bari, the Paramount Chief of Tunkia chiefdom, PC Alhaji Amara Bojo Goway Sama V, said the meeting is non political and geared towards harmonizing peace in the chiefdom.
He added that they cannot develop as a chiefdom without peace and the support of the people and government. He however cautioned his subjects that they are under the APC regime and should therefore support the government of the day, stressing that as Paramount Chief he is to seek the interest of his subjects at all times, but at the same time will not go against the decision of the government of the day, and therefore appealed to them to be law abiding.
Addressing the gathering, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Joseph Sam Sesay, expressed happiness of being with the people of Tunkia chiefdom describing them as ‘peaceful citizens,’and appealed to them not to break the records of peace in the chiefdom.
He said his visit to the chiefdom is a personal programme undertaken by the agriculture ministry to look into the status of the fifteen protected forest areas in the country including Gola forest which is five percent forest area in the country. The Agriculture Minister indicated that Sierra Leone is blessed, particularly the seven Gola chiefdoms in the south and east of the country including Tunkia chiefdom for putting Sierra Leone on the world map, as one of the sides with natural forest in the world.
Dr. Sesay observed that the place has been declared as protected forest for many years, and that last year, government went into consultation with the seven Gola chiefdoms including Tunkia chiefdom to make the place a national park which has been approved by Cabinet and passed in Parliament as law.
He explained that when a place has been declared as a protected area by law through Parliament, it means that no body is allowed to carry out any activity without the permission of the government. Dr. Sesay said the government of the day will not in any way allow mining to go on in the Bagla hills and that all previous documents and arrangements made in connection with the Bagla hills by any body or group is therefore not valid or is nullified by government.
He stated that there is a procedure to channel any complaint or grievances to reach the government through channels such as Member of Parliament, District Council and Resident Minister. He appealed to them not to take the laws into their own hands and cautioned them to maintain the peace, respect their authorities and not to do anything that is not legal.
The government of the day is always ready to listen to the subjects at all times if they use the appropriate channels in making complaints known to the government.
He thanked the Paramount Chief for keeping the peace in the chiefdom.
By Saffa Moriba