A new wave of violence has erupted in Kono by disgruntled youths who are bent on attacking private as well as companies’ diamond plots.
If not address promptly, this ugly development may end up as a recipe for violence in the region.
Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Motehma police division, Mustapha Solomon Kambeh explained that, “one of the key issues has been complains by youths for alleged lands seized from them by the chiefs and given to these large scale mining companies as concession lands”.
The LUC explained that over a thousand disgruntled youths stormed the Sierra Leone Diamond Mining Company (SLDMC) on Tuesday, adding that, “there was a sand tilling machine which was handed over to the Sandor community…but that specific area has been exhausted”.
He noted that the youth were alleging that they were no longer realizing the growth from these sand tilling.”
“Another sand tilling was identified in another location within the company’s concession area where they wanted to go and work, but since that was not the area given to them we had to restrain them from processing the sand until things are put in place between them and mining companies,” accentuated the LUC.
Out of the 15 chiefdoms that comprise Kono district, ten have been considered diamondiferous and five of these chiefdoms are in active mining activities, and these are the active mining chiefdoms faced with uprising in recent times.
LUC Kambeh emphasised that, “the youths are no longer involved in artisanal mining because most of the lands they use to work on have been taken over by these large scale or small scale mining companies, and that has been creating a lot of problems with in mining chiefdoms.”
The youths, who are dissatisfied because they are out of jobs and cannot find other ways of sustenance, are creating problems.
But the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) holds a contrary view, NMJD’s district manager Patrick Tongu saw the uprisings as a result of mining companies operation with in the district.
He disclosed that for the SLDMC, “they are notorious for land grabbing, while Koidu Holdings is having resettlement problems with those whose houses were affected during the kimberlite blasting”.
Mr Tongu explained that the people were in a spiteful state and did not know where and how to seek redress, “as traditional leaders are seen to be operating in the same frequencies with the mining companies”.
Trying to set the records straight, chief Saquee of Tankoro chiefdom stated that, “the chiefs are being left out when arrangements are being made for the establishment and operations of mining companies in the district”.
“We are absent in the negotiation process, our subjects think we are part of it and this is creating tension,” the chief stressed.
The chief heightened that they were not happy as well, noting that for the 70-80 years of mining in Kono “we have nothing to show for it…”