Wednesday, May 23, 2007

KOIDU HOLDINGS Reacts to Campaign for Just Mining (CJM)

He pointed out that the company saw the need to resettle the people as the rainy season was about to start. He disclosed to media practitioners and civil society organizations present that the houses which had been constructed for the affected have now been fully occupied by the beneficiaries.
The owners of the houses and representatives of the company, officials of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning and also the paramount chief of Tankoro Chiefdom had witnessed the signing of the document concerned with the handing over of the property to the affected person
The signing ceremony was followed by the handing over of Agricultural compensation such as garden and tree crops for the loss of agriculture farm produce as a result of the blasting.
He further showed documents signed by affected property owners to civil society organizations, media practitioners about their various plans, including a six bedroom house plan owned by the former Chairman of the Affected Properly Owners Association (APOA), Pa Kai D. M’boima, who had willingly signed his house plan and had also received his Agricultural Compensation.
Sadiq Silla, reacting to a press release issued on 12th May 2007 from a Non-Governmental Organisation, Campaign For Just Mining said that the taskforce of that NGO in Kono District had made tremendous efforts to put up sixty (60) to seventy (70) dwelling houses over a three year period.
In the press release, the taskforce expressed concern over the non-availability of the basic amenities even though the company had handed over the dwelling houses to the affected persons.
“In addition”, the press release added, “the entire community has no provision for safe drinking water. Water is life, it is a necessity.”
According to the release, the Campaign for Just Mining Taskforce had expected Koidu Holdings SA to have provided a number of bore holes for the residents of the community which would have cost the company less.
The taskforce viewed that as a gross abuse of the right of the affected community, depriving them of safe drinking water.
Responding to the press release, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Koidu Holding SA also said that the release was false and untrue adding that since the structural resettlement process started in November 2005 to now, improvements have been made for the beneficiaries.
According to the Chief Administrative Officer, twenty (20) family heads have already moved to the new re-settlement sites as on the daily basis affected people moved their families and themselves and willingly demolished their houses after being moved to the new site. He further disclosed that few houses were not completed to the teeth, but everyday, they were sure of finishing a house, and the owner of the finished house will come to the company and signed his or her document to make legal and binding.
Sadiq Silla said the issue of safe drinking water as reported by Campaign for Just Mining taskforce in Kono district was under control as he revealed that to every four (4) to six (6) houses, there is a water well with clean and safe drinking water. In addition to the wells provided by Koidu Holdings some individuals are also digging their personal water wells for themselves and appealed to Civil Society to go to the resettlement site and see things for themselves before attacking the company which he believed was working in a transparent manner and everybody is being encouraged to go and see the operations of the company.
He revealed that since November 2005, there were not dealing with Affected Property Owner Association (APOA) headed by Kai D. Mboma, which he said had been used by the Network Movement For Justice and Development (NMJD) adding that they were dealing with individual affected property owners which he said has been successful as the new approach to solving problems. He said District Coordinator, Patrick Tongu, who is putting Pa Mboma on the wrong track as he Pa Mboma has agreed to move to the resettlement.
This indicates that most of the critics of blasting have been resettled at the Kania site and most of the affected property owners have been employed directly by Koidu Holdings and are now benefiting from the company directly. He pointed out that former chairman of Affected Property Owners Association, Pa Kai D. Mboma and two of his sons are presently working for the company at the resettlement site in senior positions.
In the press release, Campaign For Just Mining taskforce mentioned that they see the open politicization of the operation of a company that does not respect the right of the people and does not live up to its corporate social responsibility as unfortunate. Why should a foreign corporate mining entity’s operation be so much politicized and the citizens continue to suffer? Chief Administrative Officer of Koidu Holdings SA, enjoys the support of the government of the day adding that in 2004 the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah after the war said that Koidu Holdings South Africa was the first company to come back and start its operations in Sierra Leone which also gave signals to other investors to have confidence that Sierra Leone had regained peace.
Sadiq Silla disclosed that company had contributed eight hundred million dollars (US$ 800, 000, 000) to the government coffers. He further said he believed as a business company that their doors were always open to receive everybody, politicians, paramount chiefs, civil society organizations, members of the fourth estate, etc.
Speaking on social responsibility, Koidu Holdings assisted the Tankoro chiefdom where they are operating by committing themselves to the rehabilitation of roads and responding to small projects in Tankoro Chiefdom, by assisting polio victims in the township.
In his response the district coordinator for the Network Movement for Justice and Development NMJD, Patrick Tongu, said he believed that coming to Koidu Holdings SA was to see how they could start dialogue instead of attacking them. Adding that Network Movement For Justice and Development is a recognized institution advocating for the rights of individual people, who do not have access to information and justice.
District Coordinator of the Brave Heart, Madam Aminata Konteh, also responded to the release issued circulated by campaign for just mining task force Kono District, that has defected from the Campaign for just mining task force. She said she was public relation officer of Campaign for Just Mining in Kono (CJM).
When they started the campaign they noticed that the affected community were grumbling, and they were concerned as part of their responsibility, they decided to go to Koidu Holdings SA which she revealed they were given audience and later went with 17 organisations to the company’s operational area to see for themselves their operations and later were taken to the resettlement site where they later made some recommendation to the company.
She disclosed to media practitioners and civil society that they were going to the community to know their problems so that they can push the company to look into the issues as their organization is to resolve issues between the company and property owners but pointed out that while they joined forces with Network Movement for Justice and Development they realized that Network Movement for Justice and Development was focusing in attacking Koidu Holdings SA which they believed did not fall in line with them because one cannot continue setting fire all the time, without finding a solution on how to amend the situation of the affected property owners.
District Coordinator Brave Heart who responded about the land provided by Koidu Holdings SA said they requested a piece of land from Koidu Holdings SA and they were issued land to Brave Heart, Akom Private School, Assembly of God Church, land for a police post, and for a mosque.
She further revealed that Brave Heart is taking care of street children and youth, women whom they wanted to relocate so that they be taken care of in the District.
In an exclusive interview with the former chairman of the Affected Property Owners Association, Pa. Kai D. Mboma, revealed to the New Citizen in Kono after the press briefing that he had willingly signed his house document and had accepted his Agricultural compensation package from Koidu Holdings SA. When further asked when he was going to move to the new resettlement site, Pa Kai D. Mboma said he would move on Tuesday 22nd May 2007, to join his colleagues and if anybody wanted to see him after Tuesday, he would be at the New resettlement site.
Pa. Kai D. Mboma lamented when further asked about the functioning of his organization former chairman replied, that most of his colleagues had moved to the settlement site.
Christopher Freeman, one of the affected property owners, has commended Koidu Holdings SA, for bringing the resettlement site to the New Site adding, “we can not go out of our houses again as we are very pleased with the construction of the resettlement houses and even the water wells been provided by Koidu Holdings SA.

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