Residents in Koidu have called on the government to ensure a speedy review of mining policy in the country, especially policies that deal with cooperate mining companies. The mining policy between government and mining companies is believed not to be in favour of the district and this is said to have greatly accounted for the poor state of the district.
The township of Koidu is poor in terms of infrastructural development. Legacies of the civil war still exist in the district as hundreds of houses burnt during the war are yet to be rebuilt. The poor state of the township has largely been blamed on the diamond industry, especially the operations of cooperate mining companies.
Speaking to Awoko in Kono, Sahr Lawrence Kamithy of the Kono District Council revealed that the way government signed contracts with mining companies in the district was not in the interest of the communities where mining had been taking place. “Mining arrangements not proper and it is silly for government to be getting just 3% of what is realized from Kono”, Kamithy said.
He said although a company like Koidu Holdings Limited had spent over fifty million dollars in the district, there was need for government to review its policy on mining so that the industry could benefit Kono people. “If I am to advise government, they should create a conducive environment for mining companies and then restructure their activities in the district”, Kamithy said.
He also suggested that the mining arrangement between government and the companies should have representatives from people affected by the operations of the mining companies
Community people spoken to by Awoko stated that mining companies in the district had not been meeting their cooperate social responsibilities and that they were only concerned about maximizing profit. As a result of that there have been serious potential conflict issues around mining particularly in Nimikoro chiefdom and in Gbense chiefdom where Kariba mining company operates. “Look at the houses where people live in Kono, it will surprise you to learn that this is a district rich in diamond”, AlexToronka, an NGO worker told Awoko, and that companies should not be given a 25 years contract to operate in the district but a shorter period that could be review when necessary. “If these mining companies have been meeting their cooperate social responsibility, Kono should not have been as it is today”, he noted.
Reacting to claims that they have not been meeting their cooperate social responsibilities, Ibrahim Sorie the Public Relations Officer of Koidu Holdings revealed that since the company started operations about five years back, they had been meeting their cooperate social responsibilities in the form of providing scholarship, and giving support to other areas in the township of Koidu. “Cooperate social responsibility is being misunderstood by people and if means providing all what people are requesting for, then it is quite impossible for Koidu Holdings to do that”, Ibrahim Sorie said.
He further said the situation of Koidu Holdings was unfortunate because the company was at the centre of Koidu and that they were having the biggest mining company in the country.
Mr Sorie said the resettlement process the company started did not go the way the company was expecting but said, “it is better that we started”.