Sunday, May 13, 2007

68 Houses for Kono Residents

One of the major diamond mining companies, Koidu Holdings Limited, has already completed the construction of 68 houses for people residing very close to dangerous mining areas. This was yesterday, Wednesday 9th May 2007, disclosed by the Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Swarray Deen, in a telephone interview, while reacting to claims that he was dodging away from members of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with regard discussions between him and the CSOs in connection to issues affecting the standard of living of people residing in that community.

The Mines Minister said the construction of the 68 houses is as a result of promise made by Koidu Holdings for individuals that have built houses in very dangerous areas. There is need for them to be relocated in safe areas, he said. He noted that the gesture was not compensation, as some people would want to believe.

Alhaji Swarray Deen revealed of how the government is receiving 3% out of the sales of all diamonds and that, 25% of that is set aside for development projects. He claimed that the entire foreign exchange is provided by the mining industry in Sierra Leone.

The Mines Minister, when asked whether he was dodging a meeting with members from civil society, especially members from the Network Movement for Justice and Development, replied that it was not true. He said that the Permanent Secretary is always available to act on his behalf when he is not around.

Alhaji Swarray Deen revealed that he had tried on several occasion to get on to Mr. Abu Brima, National Coordinator for NMJD, but to no avail. On the issue of grabbing land the mining areas, he said that members of the civil society should endeavor to contact all the necessary stake holders to sit down and iron issues out thoroughly. He however maintained that his doors are always wide open for members of the public.

Link to 68 Houses for Kono Residents in Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone News