The chief executive officer of Koidu Holdings, Jan Joubert, yesterday testified before the Jenkins Johnston commission of Inquiry that his company was sensitive to the plight of the people of Kono.
Mr Joubert testified that after his visit to the Koidu Holdings mining site in 2002 to evaluate and do survey on the ground making assessment whether it was feasible or viable at the time to do mining, his first observation was the utter destruction and desperation among the Kono people.
He also observed that there were few mud houses and one of the recommendations he made was to relocate the people living within the mine site on the moral condition that the houses be surveyed in line with the legal obligation of 1953 demarcating the Koidu Holdings site for mining purposes.
Testifying further he mentioned that during discussions with government on the issue of dwelling houses within the Koidu Kimberlite lease area in 2002, government verified that there were 53 illegal houses. But stated that taking into consideration their social responsibility, they gave an engineering company, CEMMAT, to do a base line study in 2003 and should the budget be approved another company would be contracted to do a detail environmental study. Mr Joubert further testified that during his visit in June 2003 he found out that the dwelling houses increased despite the commitment by the company to relocate the houses surveyed even though some were illegal.
He continued his testimony that after the setting up of the company their strategic objective was to complete the environmental impact assessment, start implementing the technical side, mobilize and construct the commission’s plant and get the required infrastructure to support the mining operations.
After that strategic objective, he said, the next would be the implementation of community development programmes and identification of resettlement sites. The chief executive officer continued that the three sites were identified and the property owners were taken to the three sites for which they selected the present location.
“When the first ten houses were constructed they were first satisfied with the houses but later when action groups came in they started complaining about all sort of problems,” he lamented. He continued: “we can only implement if we are allowed we will resettle the people within the shortest possible time.”