The Rutile Mining Company based in Rutile, Sierra Leone West Africa, is the classic example of, foreign mining companies who destroying the ecology, environment of Sierra Leone and compelled local populace to live the refugee and displaced, vulnerable life by joining hand in hand with greedy politicians and corrupted bureaucrats.
The Town Chief Mr Alfrad Turyamie informed that Rutile Mining company displaced them from Gangama village, the 300 year old settlement, at that place the villages had a lot of opportunities of livelihood, they have lot of fertile and swamp land for farming, even the sea was close to the place so they used to do fishing there, the bamboo and palm trees had availably in plenty number and they used to built their house by using them. But all of a sudden in 1986 they were displaced from the place for mining and settled them in the periphery of Rutile mining area namely Landon and Junctionuala. Since then the people are facing hardship & struggling for their day to day life. Limited livelihood opportunities, very little swamp and farming land, lack of natural resources, such as bamboo and palm trees to built the thatched house, no drinking water facility as such they are struggling for basic life expectancy. Town chief informed that since long they are thinking to repair the courtbarray (community meeting place) but they are struggling for bamboo and palm leaf which is available far away from the place. Mr. Alfrad explain that the Rutile staff attitude is not gentle with the local populace, when sometime we go with some demand they threatened or sometime they beat the people. People are living in fear because everyday the surveyor from company are coming in area and doing some measurement; we dont know when they will start mining here by displacing all of us. We have really no future; we are just living refugee life in our own independent country.
Mr. Mohamed Salia the Director of leading NGO working on livelihood development for the populace living in area, express his concern over the issue, he shared that there is no strong civil society to speak for the rights of people, there is risk of flood because everywhere Rutile dug out big quarry. During my visit I visited one house were the teenage boy died in the Rutile dug out Quarry on the way to return to his village from the farm. Local populace explained that its not new for them any time in rainy season they lost someone as a result of mining ponds swelling up with water. Mr. Mohamed told that when he talk with the people about there future settlement somewhere about to cry, he told that people cant fight for themselves, they dont have menace. The people who know about the situation dont want to speak on the subject because they have fear of Government. There is an act in the parliament for mining companies which given more power to these companies. Mr. Mohamed Koroma, the Gender and Human rights activist explained that these mining companies are destroying whole Sierra Leone they destroyed our mountains, forest, natural resources and long back local traditional living system for Bauxite, Titanium & Diamonds by displacing people. Definitely this mining will be long term effect on the ecology of Sierra Leone where mining has created erosion, sinkholes and contamination of groundwater. He feel the need of advocacy campaign against such activities, he told that the foreign company officials and people who are in command are suppressing the voice of people by their power. Mining in the developed countries is highly regulated to ensure safety and the return of the area to a pre-mining ecological state, then why not it applicable in Africa? He hopes that one day the balloon of exploitation will burst, definitely people will came out on road for securing their rights.
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