As usual, this week’s press briefing at the Ministry of Information was charged with issues regarding the mining sector with special reference to the recent collapse of the millions of US Dollars worth of dredge at the Sierra Rutile Company, which the minister of lands and country planning, Benjamin Davies, submitted that the approximate cause of its collapse was ‘stability,’ or lack thereof.
Mr. Davies observed that the floating vessel and the engine were not compatible, because the vessel was built in Sierra Leone while the engine was brought in from Malaysia but never took cognizance of both weights of the vessel and engine, which he said might have responded to the force of gravity.
“A dredge is a floating vessel with all mining paraphernalia that has the force of gravity.” he stated.
He said if the fault would have been mechanical, the engine would have signaled; but if there wasn’t a signal, meaning the engine was sound, the dredge may have collapsed during its forward and backward movement. “From my perception, the source of the problem was ‘stability’ and lack of reserve buoyancy, without which it may capsize,” he said. He advised that they will get to the bottom of the issue before any repair; otherwise, he said, it would be unfortunate.
On the environmental impart of the incident, he noted the Sierra Rutile company’s insurance company has launched an investigation to assess the magnitude of the problem, adding that the have already passed the environmental impart assessment bill to manage the environment well.
After a brief retrospection of the uprising in Kono between residents of Kono and the Koidu Holding mining company a couple of months ago, the Minister of Mineral Resources Abubakar Jalloh said the Sierra Rutile dredge collapsed with 51 people onboard and 2 people were reported dead .
He said the dredge was a special mining facility which he and President Koroma commissioned to boost the socio economic growth of the country. He further explained that after the incident, a team of staff went to the scene to get firsthand information and to sympathize with the community.
He categorically stated that they were not comfortable with some of the agreements government had earlier entered into with some big mining companies, which he said are only interested in the proceeds and not the development of the mining communities.
The minister concluded that they were now going to linkup mining with infrastructural development to develop the mining communities with modern structures like railways, electricity and good road networks, among others.
The Minister of Labour Safety and Social Security Minkailu Mansaray described the incident as ‘tragic.’ He explained that his ministry is responsible for employment creation in order to sustain the livelihood of the people, adding that Rutile employs a huge portion of the labour force among the youth population.
He confirmed that an inspectorate within his ministry tried to ascertain the cause of the incident but to no avail.
By Solomon Rogers