By: Kebba AF Touray
The community of Faraba Banta village in the West coast Region, Saturday May 26th, protested against sand mining in their community, without their consent. This according to them poses a great threat to their environment and their lives.
According to the villagers, a group called ‘Julakay’, came to the village with the intention of mining in their ‘faros’ or rice farms; that the group initially said they have sought the consent of the villagers and after reaching at an agreement and fulfillment of the conditions, they can mine for sand from the community ‘faro’.
According to this ‘Julakay’ group, they allege to have had the consent of the village Alkalo and some members of the VDC to start operations; but that findings reveal that the Alkalo did so without the consent of either the VDC or the villagers.
“We have engaged and consulted some stakeholders in ensuring that mining is done in the proper way. After a series of consultations with National Environment Agency and other stakeholders, the ‘Julakay’ group was asked to stop, until the mining is done according to due process. This order was not heeded and they continued with their operations, and in the process they destroyed the village football field and some compounds and fell down palm trees,” a villager said.
The community called a meeting on Saturday to clear their position on the matter. Shortly when the meeting started, PIU Personnel visited the meeting grounds on the basis that they were informed of a demonstration in the village. This agitated villagers who took to the site and started stoning the tractor and demanding for an immediate stop to sand mining in their community. The PIU officers used tear gas and fired gun shots with rubber bullets, to quell the people from coming to the site. The villagers after some moments, stopped stoning and returned to the village square for the meeting.
“The villagers and their VDC members decided to take the matter to the Court for an injunction to stop the sand mining, until it is consented to by the villagers and their conditions met,” said VDC Chairman, Alagie Sanyang.
Efforts made by this reporter to obtain the views of the Chief and the Alakalo, proved futile as it was reported that the Alakalo was out of the village and the Chief was busy.