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Sierra Leone Parliament Commits EPA Act 2021

HomeNewsSierra Leone Parliament Commits EPA Act 2021

Sierra Leone Parliament Commits EPA Act 2021

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By Department of Public Relations

The Parliament of Sierra Leone yesterday Tuesday 16th November, 2021 debated and committed the Bill entitled: “The Environment Protection Agency Act, 2021” to the Legislative Committee for further scrutiny.

The Bill is seeking to provide for the continuation of the Sierra Leone Environment Protection Agency, to provide for more effective and efficient protection and management of the environment and for other related matters.

Minister of the Environment, Prof. Foday M. Jaward said the Bill was in line with the agenda of the AU and that of the SDGs in relation to protection of the environment; adding we have been ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world and that urgent remedial action should be taken to reduce our exposure and vulnerability as a country. He also called for the review of existing laws for the purposes of environmental protection.

Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Hon. Yusuf Mackery said the Bill would only stand the test of time if it addressed issues relating to environmental depletion and climate change; hoping that with the passage of the Bill, it would enhance development programmes in the country. Speaking on administrative changes, he called for increased local consultation and collaboration on issues relating to environmental protection and preservation.

Leader of NGC, Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, speaking on the significance of the Bill, he drew attention to the negative impacts of deforestation in the country. Welcoming the passage of the Bill into law, he asked that issues that are gravely affecting the environment should be addressed by it. Speaking on the need for further scrutiny, he said the Bill should be able to address the challenges that are affecting environmental protection, management and preservation.

Opposition Whip, Hon. Hassan Sesay said the Bill should be sent for further scrutiny and spoke on environmental protection given the negative impacts of degrading the environment. He decried timber export and described it as a major part of environmental degradation including river pollution. He called for proactive measures instead of reactive ones relating to environmental protection.

Hon. Neneh Lebbie spoke on the need to reclaim land from encroachers for the protection of the environment and also said that environmental degradation has resulted in climatic change and extinction of some animals.

Hon. Rebecca Y. Kamara thanked the Minister for the Bill and advanced reasons for it to be sent to the Legislative Committee given its sensitivity. She also said that issues relating to climate change are serious, but are being caused by human activities which needed to be stopped by policy and legislation.

Hon. Alex Rogers, recalled when he was a mines consultant, he called on the Minister to develop a matrix for mining companies in respect of public disclosure on payments and other obligatory considerations to the state.

Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara said he hoped the Bill would address exploitative tendencies by mining companies to the affected communities. He raised some concerns regarding the roles and responsibilities of EPA including collaboration and inclusion of the locals and continued education on issues relating to climate change. He called on the government to be considerate on timber export given the protection of the environment.

Rounding, Acting Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo said it was necessary to take the Bill to the Legislative Committee for further scrutiny. Recalling his days as a Minister, he spoke positively on the need for wildlife conservation. He also said that his constituents have been gravely affected by environmental depletion and spoke on the need for consulting with the host communities and that people have heavily encroached on the green belt.

Concluding, Acting Leader of Government Business, Hon. Bashiru Silikie said climate change was a global issue and needed urgent remedial action. He said that he hoped the problem of land degradation by artisanal mining would be addressed by the Bill. He decried the idea of not including MPs in the Bill where other stakeholders were named. He thanked the brilliant contributions made by MPs and supported the committal of the Bill.

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