Rampaging bands of aggressive youths have restarted mining activities close to the houses and roadsides in Koidu town – an act which had been banned under President Kabbah.
Sadiq Silla the Administrative head at Koidu Holdings disclosed “this all started in the last two months after the elections.”
Reports say that the rampaging youths have gone into areas mined by license owners and also even concession areas under the control of Koidu Holdings. They abuse the license owners, threaten them and mine in their areas.
“They do not listen to anybody they say this is our land and we are going to mine it” Sadiq explained.
Paramount Chief Paul Ngaba Sacquee of Tankoro Chiefdom explained that “about 2 or 3 weeks ago the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mineral resources, the Director of Mineral Resources – they were all here and we went out into the field.”
PC Sacquee said “we were confronted by youths with stones – I mean pelting stones at us”
The Paramount Chief emphasized “We are talking where the Paramount Chief was, the Director of Mineral Resources the Permanent Secretary and a lot of other party stalwarts and the Secretary General of the party …”
“When we came back I said to the Permanent Secretary Mr Pessima just imagine if I had sent one of my NA police officers out there how would they have received them?”
Pointing out the activities to journalists (picture) Sadiq explained “That is the swamp that is leading to the highway that is the same thing they did about this other bridge, they dug right under the bridge and we informed the authorities and every thing and nothing happened and now they are doing that – this is the area that the town digging is going on again you can see the swamp rice growing in between this is reclaimed land a lot of money was spent to reclaim it for agricultural purposes and now they are destroying it again.”
The illegal miners are allegedly claiming they have the backing of the vice president and the ruling party.
As one social commentator put it “they are performing illegal acts hiding behind the wall of influential politicians”
Chief Sacquee however stated “I think the onus is on the government to make sure that these activities are stopped.”
Mining in the township was banned by the Tejan Kabbah government when it became clear that social structures like roads and bridges were being destroyed in the quest for diamonds.
The popular spot then was Kaisambo where mining activities have again started and again threatening the same social structures. The main problem however is the apparent disregard for any authority – neither the Chiefs nor the police all of whom seem powerless in the face of perceived high level political connections.
Resident caution that if nothing is done soon it may lead to civil unrest in the area as it happened before between ex-combatants and Kono youths organization over the same township mining areas. By Kelvin Lewis in Kono