New Kartong VDC condemns ‘illegal’ sand mining

New Kartong VDC condemns ‘illegal’ sand mining

By Sulayman Waan

The new Village Development Committee (VDC) of Kartong village in the Kombo South District, West Coast Region (WCR), has condemned what they perceive as “illegal and irresponsible” sand mining in their territory.  

The VDC condemned the “illegal activity” in a protest at the sand mining site situated two hundred metres away from the community.

The community development body has been cautioning government and protesting against mining companies for mining in their territory.

According to the VDC, unlicensed miners are operating in five sand mining sites on the outskirts of the village for “personal benefits.” They further argued that the miners operated without any technical or legal supervision, making the mining “irresponsible and irrational”.

Speaking to journalists at the Kartong mining sites, Hatab Jaiteh, spokesperson for Kartong VDC cum anti-illegal mining advocate, told journalists that some Kartong residents “are illegally mining sand” on the outskirts of the village for their personal benefit.

“There are some members of our own community that are engaged in illegal and irresponsible sand mining in the community,” he alleged. “These people have their personal trucks but they do not have licences. They are just mining illegally and irresponsibly to enrich themselves. We want them to stop the illegal sand mining from here.”

He added that the miners have not been supervised by anybody, thus creating a room for irresponsible sand mining that has the potential to cause disaster.

“The illegal mining is causing several negative impacts in the community,” he complained, saying: “It is damaging to our flora and fauna as well as destroying our environment.”

Jaiteh recalled that at some point, Kartong residents agreed to have a portion to mine sand for construction of their homes. However, he said, these illegal miners are doing a different thing because they are selling several trucks of sand to outsiders for personal use.    

Jaiteh said the residents are in total fear of being victims of climate change, pointing out that Kartong is ranked 6th below the sea level and miners have removed all sand dunes between the sea and the community which were serving as a barrier to water.

Muhammed Lamin Touray, secretary for the VDC, said his team has sent letters to all concerned public institutions including the Brikama Area Council (BAC), National Environmental Agency, and Geology Department, informing them about the ongoing illegal mining in their terrain.

However, he said, none of those institutions has taken a step to help the VDC in ending the illegal activity.

“As far as we are concerned, we have not seen any action from any of these institutions. They are not supporting us,” he said in distress.

Touray also noted that if the irresponsible sand mining continues, the community would encounter devastating floods, and to avert that, the DVC wants to make sure that the mining is responsibly controlled and monitored by the Geology Department.

“We are not denying Kartong residents from mining sand,” he clarifies. “They have right to the sand but we are saying if the community is to be allocated with a mining site it must be monitored by the Geology Department and then we have technical advice from NEA to ensure responsible mining and save us from possible devastation in the future.”

He said: “Currently we have irresponsible, irrational and very provocative mining because several tons of sand have been mined from our territory but the community did not benefit from it.”

Buba Kwame Jarju, chairperson of Kartong VDC, alleged that illegal miners are backed by powerful residents but declined to give further details to substantiate his allegation.

SW/COB/02/02/24

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