A civil society organization, Campaign for Just Mining (CJM), has expressed concerns over the government’s decision to lift the suspension on the operations of Koidu Holdings Limited.
At a press briefing held over the weekend at the Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement (GGE) at John Street in Freetown, the coordinator of Civil Society Alternative Process Falla Ensah N’Dayma, said CJM appreciated government’s swift response to the crisis that erupted in Kono last December, which left two civilians dead and eight seriously injured.
He added that, “we further appreciates the government’s move to set up a commission of inquiry of reputable Sierra Leoneans with vast experience in diverse fields to investigate the incident and other related mining issues in the country”. The coordinator noted that in the spirit of building and nurturing partnerships and citizens’ participation, the campaign expressed disappointment over the government’s practice of hoarding information that was critical for the citizens’ involvement on issues that affected lives.
Mr N’Dayma disclosed that the news of government’s decision on Koidu Holdings came as a shock to many people who had been following with keen interest the unfolding events in Kono since Koidu Holdings started operations in 2003.
“The Jenkins Johnston Commission of Inquiry whose work was funded from poor tax payers’ money can only make real meaning to the affected people if it contributes to improving their living standards,” intimidated Mr N’Dayma
He stressed that this could only happen if the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report receives adequate political will from the government.
The coordinator pointed out that, “the government’s decision to lift the suspension on the operations of Koidu Holdings after an amicable consultation between the highest strata of leaderships of Koidu Holdings and the government of Sierra Leone at State House is of grave concern to CJM and all those struggling for justice and responsible exploitation of the country’s natural resources”.
The affected people in Kono who bear the brunt of Koidu Holdings operations, he said, were not invited to this meeting, nor were those civil society organizations which had been raising concerns about the issue.
He disclosed that recommendations five of the export required Koidu Holdings to pay compensation to all persons injured by OSD personnel and to the next-of –kin of those killed in the 13 December disturbances in Kono.
Therefore, the coordinator stated, “CJM demands that the government makes public the modalities being put in place and the timeline for the implementation of the recommendations of the Jenkins-Johnston Commission of Inquiry, to which it has already responded with a white paper”.