By:- Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang
Robert Mendy, the Alkalo of Lamin-Daranka has issued a stern warning that any person, group, organization or company found mining sand in the streets of his community, will face the full force of the law.
Mendy made this statement during a day’s communal sensitization focus group discussion on illegal street sand mining and other local environmental problems faced by the community. The forum was organized by the National Environment Agency (NEA) in collaboration with the Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Daranka and Kerewan villages in the West Coast Region.
The outspoken environmentalist disclosed that sand is an important mineral for the construction industry and for environmental protection. But said its increase in demand has caused uncontrolled illegal practices of mining for it in the streets making it a serious threat to the environment.
“This negative practice is common during the rainy season as the run-off water carries eroded sand and deposits them in the streets, farmlands and other environmentally sensitive sites. These deposits among others are the ones which are not spared by the illegal miners and the act renders severe environmental problems to surroundings and further encourages more erosion within our community,” Alkalo Mendy said; that it is in response to this massive illegal sand mining within the communities of Kerewan and Daranka, that triggers the National Environment Agency to collaborate with VDCs to embark on this important community focus group discussion involving all stakeholders, including youth and women representatives, religious leaders, councilors and elders of the two villages.
The community dialogue took place at the Daranka Youth Center where the Alkalo vehemently challenged stakeholders to jealously guide the scarce natural resource for the current and future generations.
In his deliberation, Lamin Samateh a Senior Environmental Legislation and Policy Officer from the NEA, called for attitudinal change from local communities towards what he described as a self-destruction exercise of pilling off the remaining sand cover which protects the streets, by exposing them to erosion and related disasters. Samateh said environmental protection is always helpful to enhance livelihood support systems and posited that it is incumbent on all to stop any individual, group or organization that tampers with it.
These natural resources he pointed out, are often exploited unsustainably because the demand remains to be high together with the unsustainable practices of exploitation and utilization as well as other important drivers of environmental degradation which have placed undue pressure on the natural resource base, impacting negatively on it.
Samateh also used the opportunity to call on the people to follow the due process of the law if they want to mine sand for local needs. He however warned that it’s a crime to involve in such activities without approval from the relevant authorities.
In his vote of thanks and closing remarks, the Alkalo of Kerewan Abdoulie Jarju reiterated that no one must take the law into his/her own hand by collecting sand illegally; that the extraction or mining of sand is more likely to have serious ramifications on the environment.