Calls for International Intervention… Alimu Bah Still Defiant; Thousands Still Homeless

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Jespy M. Thoronka, Chairperson of the aggrieved occupants at South Ridge Community, IMMAT, in Freetown has explained to this medium that they are struggling to find dwelling places as Alimu Barrie completely demolished their homes with a fake court order.

He continued to state that over 7000 people were left homeless and a primary school which used to host over 3000 pupils completely destroyed.

The chairman described such a situation as unfortunate as it has deprived thousands of school children from continuing their education at a time when the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is working tremendously to improve free quality education.

He said they had occupied the place in question from 1999 to 2000 and that during this time the place was a thick forest, adding that he was a teacher by then at the Maranatha Primary School at the IMATT community and claimed to have taught up to ten thousand school children to date.

Mr. Thoronka pointed out that after they had cleared the whole area in 2004-2005 they started working cordially with the Ministry of Lands and Country Planning which allocated the land to them.

The chairman went on to say that during that time, the former Minister of Lands Diana Konomanyi met and informed them that they had one investor (Alimu Barrie) who wanted to build an Estate on the said land.

“It was a laudable venture by then because everyone was looking for such an opportunity and such investment will create jobs for them,” he explained.

He noted that because of mismanagement and financial problems Alimu Barrie wasn’t able to continue with the construction project and he was later sued to court by Mr. Fawaz a business man who Alimu had borrowed building materials from for his estate construction project.

He added that Mr. Alimu ended up losing the case and Mr. Fawaz seized the whole estate comprising of over 21 houses, adding that in 2007 to 2008 Mr. Alimu made an attempt to reclaim the whole area which is equivalent to 30 acres of land.

The teacher added that Alimu was also taken to court by Sonny Davies and he later lost the case and the court later consented to give Mr. Davies 16 acres while and Alimu was asked to maintain his 10 acres and they later offered him another 16 acres at Moigaba.

The Chairmen said since the land has been surrendered to them they were given survey documents and they are currently paying NRA to the government of Sierra Leone.

He said since then no one has ever taken them to court but that quite recently they were called by the Minister of Lands who informed them that the Attorney General had already given orders for them to vacate the said place.

Mr. Thoronka said he asked the Minister to provide him with the court order but that the minister refused and that few days later they just saw huge heavy duty earth moving machines start bringing down their homes.

He also claimed that Mr. Barrie personally called him to bribe him ($50,000) fifty thousand dollars for him to avoid the matter.

 Mr. Thoronka has made formal complaint to the Citizens’ Advocacy Network (CAN) a renowned civil society organization in Sierra Leone through a letter dated 29th September written by the aggrieved parties complaining that, as occupants at the South Ridge Community, IMMAT, in Freetown they were barricaded by members of the Operational Support Division (OSD) of the Sierra Leone Police, from entering their homes and that in the company of others the OSD vandalized structures and rendered over seven thousand occupants homeless.

Mr. Thoronka, Chairperson of the aggrieved informed the Citizens’ Advocacy Network that, according to the police, they were executing a Court Order over which they had no prior knowledge as should be the case, because they were never taken to court to challenge their legal ownership of the land they had been occupying.

The occupants, who are now homeless, are expressing their deepest displeasure over the illegal demolition of structures and subsequent eviction of over seven thousand (7000) legal occupants, including women and children at South Ridge Community, adjacent to the Embassy of the United States, Hill Station in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Chairman explained that since they had occupied the said community for the past fifteen (15) years with no interference from individuals they were never invited to court to defend their legal status regarding the land they occupy.

He continued that the ‘‘police had acted in favor of Alimu Barrie, who lately laid claim over a community which had been in existence for over fifteen years now, and that Barrie hoodwinked the police into believing that the said land belongs to them, albeit occupants having legal documents to the effect that legitimizes their ownership.’’

Currently, the chairperson lamented that women and children have no place to sleep and the schooling activities of their children has been disrupted by this single act of the police, in cohort with other state authorities who wrongfully backed Alimu Barrie as against seven hundred thousand legal occupants.

This medium has proactively spoken to the Citizens’ Advocacy Network and the institution responded that they are soliciting the intervention of the appropriate ministries into this matter as it infringes on the fundamental human rights of citizens to own land as enshrined in the constitution of Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, Alimu Barrie is keeping sealed lips on the matter.

Timber logging in high gear; rural communities deprived & destroyed

Leadway leads in Timber logging  

Rogue Timber Company exposed – SIERRA LEONE NEWS
Sierra Leone's Unregulated Export Timber Trade
Managing our woodlands | NatureScot
timber logging – Sierra Express Media

By Joseph Turay

While it is true that President Bio pledged his government’s compliance to working towards combatting Climate Change in many ways, it is unfortunate that not quite twenty four hours later, the sole government merchant for timber in Sierra Leone is ordering the Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police, Dr. Ambrose Michael Sovula to instruct his police personnel to dismantle the blockades and checpoints placed along timber logging routes and allow the product free pasage.

To the ordinary individual it is inconceivable that the President can be agreeing with world leaders while at home his surbordnate in the person of Babadi Kamara, CEO of Leadway Company in charge of the nations’s timber could be going in the opposite direction and seemingly flouting the  president;s agreement and pledge on the world scene together woth world leaders.

Against this background, it is understood that no sooner President Bio had agreed or pledged to abide by the COP26 agreements, he either by commission or ommission or passively or actively gave insrructions for logging activities to kick-start in Sierra Leone in an effort to raise urgent funds in a jiffy – for what purpise, is the million dollar question.

It is a fact that centuries of slash-and-burn farming has destroyed the fertility of most of our soils in Sierra Leone; and Sierra Leoneans must embark on massive making of manure, tree planting, and greening. “

However, timber logging has also massively affected the flora and fauna across the country and Sierra Leone is no exemption to climate change

It could be recalled that President Bio addressed the COP-26, together with a high-powered delegation. Also in attendance was the Mayor of Freetown, Iyvonne Aki-Sawyer.

Contrary to the spirit of the COP26 meeting in which President Bio was an integral part, is therefore, very suspicious that not quite twenty four hours after President Bio pladged to align his country with COP26 regulations against climate change, the CEO, Leadway Trading Company, Babadi Kamara writes the IG reguesting that he informs his LUCs and all other police personnel to allow timber through their checkpoint unhindred because the suspensiuon of in-house timber transportation ended on 31st October, 2021 and so therefore, timber in-house transportation restarted on 1st November, 2021.

“But if President Bio is really serious about fighting climate change, he should have at least waited or pretended to be going along with the COP26 for at least one year. But imediately he leaves the sumit, timber begins moving across the country. Who does he thing he’s fooling? He might be fooling some Sierra Leoneans but not the international community that have eyes everywhere,” said a lecturer at Njala University.

Simply put, deforestation is seen as the clearing of forested lands. In Sierra Leone, Leadway takes the lead to logging and removing Forests or trees for Timber export purposes .

The preceeds are huge, according to by the Sierra Leone’s Audit Service report.

Tree loggings by  Leadway has disadvantaged land farms, ecosystems but more importantly the danger it has caused to our environments and the threats to Climte change.

This Wood harvesting by Leadway has caused potential damage to the livelywood of poor rural people and the environment in particular in the noth –esat of the country .

Again, in the south -eastern parts ,  Leadway has expanded its activities to remove forests and stand of trees from farm forests – lands.

This deal which is legally backed by the government has been converted for export purposes at the determinent of Sierra Leoneans who gain nothing.

Mainly, most deforestation takes place in tropical rainforests in poor rural comminituies that lack basic social amenities of life; the devil here is the harzards the activities are heaping on the already porous roads.

Has the continuing deforestation done by Leadway not defied the COP 26 or affecting negatively our natural ecosystems, biodiversity and the climate change campain the world leaders are trumpting where President Bio made huge commitmnets to reduce or halt the trade..?

  A statement from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said the annual rate of deforestation is around 1.3 Million km per decade. Sierra Leone falls within this beachmark though!

And  of caurse, leadway is contributing hugely to the decrease in forests areas across the country.

 It is also clear that Leadway’s deforestation activities is a tangable threat to biodiversity in particular.

It is a fact that forests represent many of the most veritable hubs of Sierra Leone’s biodiversity ranging from; mammals to birds, insects, amphibians or plants-the forests host many of our rare and fragile spicies.

Research has shown that 80% of th earth’s land animals and plants live in the forests globally.

Distroying the forests, and the export of these Timber and the equation of  this very human activity of logging is putting Sierra Leonean’s ecosystems in danger, creating natural or inbalance and putting Sierra Leoneans lives at threat.

By far, forests trees provide shade and colder temperature for animals and little trees or vegeatations which man not survive with the heat of direct sunlight.

Poor rural farmers in Sierra Leone depend on forests for their survival; they use them to hunt  and gather raw products their small-scale agriculture process.

Sierra Leonean’s land tenure system is too weak and this has caused companies like government backed Lead way to access these forests directly or indirectly and use them for their ends ; putting the survival of local people in danger.

 The continueing deforestation by Leadway will affect and contribute negatively to climate change by every satandard.

It is said that tree absorb and store CO2 throughout their lives.  Sierra Leone, like many other countries in africa hold more than 210 gigatons of carbon.  And so, the cutting of trees they will release back into the atmosphere the CO2 they were storing.

Again , the fewer the trees, explains that the plant’s overrall ability to capture and store CO2 will deminish or reduce.

Therefore, these effects of tree logging will come negatively to green house effect and to the very climate change meeting president Bio made commitment in Glasgow COP26.

Scientific reseach has proven that  food and agriculture accounts for 24% of green house gas emission; while deforestation is estamated to be responsible for 10-15% of all anthropgenic CO2 emmission .

So you now see where Timber logging in a samll poor country like Sierra Leone is raping the country and its people. 

As Orange SL Turns Sod for Pre-school in Tihun Over 1, 000 Pupils to Be Empowered

By Paul Kargbo

The Sierra Leone leading mobile telecommunication service provider in the country, Orange- Sierra Leone has launched another ultra-modern pre-school at Tihun Town, Bonthe District Freetown. It could be recalled that Orange SL which happens to be one of the best telecommunication service provider in the country has already constructed three pre-schools in Kambia, Moyamba and Pujehun districts respectively.

As part of rolling out its early childhood Development center school project which happens to go in line with the free quality education support to the Government’s initiative, Orange-sl has the plans to cover the entire country with its education projects. The company’s project for the ultra- Modern Prep-school in Tihun town, Bonthe District is worth up to Le800m (eight hundred million Leones), and it is set to be completed within ten weeks. At the turning of the sod ceremony in Sogbeni Chiefdom, the Director of Orange Foundation, Jestina Betts described the projects as a “ Vital investment which will be sustainable and will benefit generations yet unborn as they will join hand with Tihun to bring such project a success as it will benefit the country Sierra Leone”. During the ceremony, madam Betts assures the people of Tihun that the project will last for ten weeks and they should secure the materials as that will help the work to go faster. She said the project is focusing on health and education Aspect in the country. The Director calls on stakeholders to work together with the workers in other to strengthen pre-school education in their community and the country because the project is about giving back to the society. She however appealed to the community to ensure safety of the project materials as the cooperation of the people will be highly needed so that the work will be completed as proposed by the company. During the ceremony, the Chiefdom’s local Authority, Councillor Joseph Sylvalie extends his appreciations to the Orange Sierra Leone network for bringing such a wonderful project in their community. Councillor Sylvalie said that  the people of Sogbeni do appreciates their help and they will be support  the orange telecommunication service provider network as most of them are using orange SIM card. He continued that, those that gave the land to the community for the building of the ultra-modern pre-school has done something that will benefit their children even generation yet unborn. “As part of its social responsibility, the company has done a lot for the country; parents should embrace the development made by the Orange Company in building of schools across the country”. He said. The District Chairman saw orange’s support to the Education as a way of promoting President Julius Maada Bio’s dream towards the free quality education in the country. He  furthered  appealed to the company  for them to extend their help in the re-establishment of skills, and that anytime they called for help in renovating the school let them respond to their call. The Councillor said: “we are not interested in all, but we need just 80 percent of the company’s help”, he pleaded.

The representative of the Minister and Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Basic Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) Lahai Feika applauded Orange Foundation team as he said: “education is very important if we want to develop as a nation and a country, we need education for development”.

In his statement, he gave the importance of pre-school in a country. “Pre-school develops the brain of the child at an early age, the foundation laid will be very strong for that child, it is like an investment, the language development will be groomed” Mr. Lahai said. He also appealed to Orange to extend similar facilities to other neighbouring communities.

In an unrelated but similar programme as it involves education, a Super Coder Scratch Programme which aims at training over 1, 000 pupils at FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists) Secondary School has been launched by Orange Sierra Leone in partnership with STMicroelectronics Foundation, STM for short.

Orange is Sierra Leone’s leading and biggest telecoms company in the country, and STM is an Italian-French digital company.

The Super Coding Programme aims at bridging the digital divide which has plagued the country for years. The programme enhances pupils’ skills to do coding, animation, cartoon movies and to tell stories using the internet.

The launching was done by Orange Sierra Leone Head of Human Resources Department (HRD), Agness Songa.

While addressing FAWE audience, Mrs. Songa urged the pupils to take advantage of the project for digital enhancement. “FAWE must be proud for being part of the 20 schools selected for the super-coding project, and must take advantage of it,” she urged the pupils.

She also informed the audience that Orange Sierra Leone was the only company that pledged Le1.5M as its support to the Free Quality Education (FQE) project since its pronouncement in 2018.

This money, Songa went on, was being spent on infrastructure and school materials. She added that FQE is government’s flagship project which aims at providing education to the children of Sierra Leone free of cost.

The scheme takes over 22% of the country’s national budget, a situation that compelled government to enlist the support of corporate entities to actualise their dreams.

Orange Sierra Leone is the first to respond to government’s call to empower children of Sierra Leone.

The support to government’s flagship project, she said, was done by the Orange Money Foundation that was established in January, 2021.

Since its creation, the foundation has been active in supporting three basic governance pillars: education, health and culture.

She also pointed out that women empowerment as one of the areas her institution had been paying great attention to.

It is owing to the desire to empower women that the company is to empowering girls. “If we want to empower women, we must focus on the girls of today,”

Girls, she went on, are future leaders adding that they need thorough preparation to demonstrate their greatness when it is time to come on the stage of national action.

The HRD head also reminded the pupils that Orange Sierra Leone was poised to see ICT leaders coming out of FAWE Secondary School.

The world community is going digital and that schools should prepare the pupils to make them competitive in the world market.

Songa also spoke about the inter- secondary school competition which, she said,  was about to be organised. She said the winning school would get a well-furnished computer lab to enhance digitalisation.

“If FAWE Secondary school emerges as winner, it would get the computer lab,” she assured.

Apart from the support to education, she said, Orange SL had been supporting girls through the provision of hygiene packs under the health pillar. The aim is to keep girls at schools.

The hygiene project, according to Songa, started in 2019.

Corona Virus struck the following year at the peak of its implementation, but that did not whittle down the company’s commitment to sanitation.

In his contribution at the launching ceremony, head of ST Foundation, Mohamed Dumbuya told the pupils that “knowledge is about receiving and giving out.”

The Super-Coding project, Dumbuya continued, was launched few years back adding that Annie Walsh, Fourah Bay College, Albert Academy and later FAWE school as direct beneficiaries.

“32 labs out of 39 lab materials are now ready for installation in schools,” he assured.

Head of ST Foundation commended Orange Sierra Leone for being an active partner in digitalization.

“We are in this together with Orange Sierra Leone, and there is no life today without ICT,” he stressed.

He assured the pupils that “getting it now will help them in their studies and future careers,” Dumbuya said.

He informed the audience that local trainers have been supported by Orange Sierra Leone.

The move is economical in that the trainees did not have to travel to France.

Recommendation of FAWE Secondary School, Dumbuya said,  for a UNICEF project had been done.

He called on pupils to embrace the digital project for a brighter future.

Principal of FAWE Secondary School in charge of SSS, Isata Kabia said launching of the Super-Coding Project has laid a solid foundation for the enhancement of pupils’ digital skills.

These skills would be harnessed for the continuation of the national development project of Sierra Leone.

A senior teacher at the Junior Secondary School level, Mr. Sidikie Bangura said the relevance of the super-coding project could not be over-emphasised.

“The project does not only expose the pupils to the country but also to the world,” he expressed hope.

The computer lab, he said, would ensure that the pupils acquire knowledge and skills that help them in the near future.

A pupil in the senior classes commended Orange Sierra Leone for choosing and utilising their school for the super-coding project.

She entreated her colleagues to capitalise on the project for a better tomorrow.

“Under the Free Quality Education, no child is left out,” she said.

She also appealed to Orange Sierra Leone to continue to show love to them saying: “As girls, we need to be cared for.”

Two of the direct beneficiaries who spoke to this press expressed hope. Fatmata Swarray, a JSS-1pupil told this press that she embraced the super-coding project in their school. The project, she said, would help them in learning. Another pupil, Mamie Ndanema is hopeful of the goodies the project would bring home.

Since FQE scheme was launched in 2018, Orange Sierra Leone has made a contribution that counts towards a worthy cause.

The has constructed three ultra-modern Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in Mambolo Chiefdom in  Kambia, Kayimba  chiefdom in Moyamba and Sowa chiefdom in Pujehun districts.

The sod has also been turned for the construction of two ECD centres in Lokomasama chiefdom in Port Loko and Sogbeni Chiefdom in Bonthe district.

The two projects are simultaneously carried out, and would be completed in December this year and handed over to government.

With Orange, a brighter future awaits Sierra Leone because the company loves and cares.

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