China’s agreement to Establish a Fishing Wharf in Sierra Leone’s Rainforest marathons with fierce Opposition
By Brian MBowe-
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) DENVER Colorado, United States- Sierra Leone has approved to vend 250 acres of pristine beach and rainforest to China in a $55 million pact that would glimpse an industrial fishing harbor built on the site. This has provoked anger from conservationists, human rights groups and animal welfare groups and local landowners that have let out the project would “destroy the pristine rainforest, plunder the stocks, pollute the marine environment and five individual ecosystems that are fish breeding grounds and support endangered bird and wildlife species.”
Precisely, the components of the deal, linger uncertain. Local public policy research organizations the Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice (ILRAJ) and Namati Sierra Leone have inscribed to the administration calling for information on “plans to establish a fish harbor and carry out waste management operations at Black
Johnson in the Western Area peninsula, a project funded by the Government of China.”
The groups are desiring replicas of lawfully mandated environmental and social impact assessments, along with the grant consensus between China and the Sierra Leonean government. Black Johnson’s waters are rich in fish and local fishers provide a considerable quantity of the domestic market. Thus, the Western Area Peninsula national park houses many sensitive species.
A Press Release from Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources – Emma Kowa-Jalloh argues that “the facility to be constructed is a Fish Harbor and not a Fish Mill as portrayed by the social media writers.”
“The objective of the Fish Harbor is to centralize all fishing activities. The government of Sierra Leone has been yearning for a Fish Harbor since the early 1970s, but could not actualize it due to the huge amount of money that is required,” Kowa-Jalloh announced.
“With the new shift in government policy for the development of the fisheries sector, the Chinese government has given a grant of $55m to build this platform.” The release also asserts that Black Johnson was “the most suitable place for the construction of the facility in terms of bathymetry, social safeguards (minimum resettlement cost) and environmental issues.”
Kowa-Jalloh told the Ministry of Finance had set aside a payment package of 13.76 billion Leones (around $1.34 million) for landowners, and affirmed hat, the sale of the land was intended to “ensure the regular supply of fish” to the local market. In a tweet on Tuesday, May 20th, 2021, Greenpeace Africa criticized the motion, contending that “fishing communities in West Africa are already experiencing the effects of environmental degradation and the climate crisis.”
“Permitting more extractive activities in this region will only worsen the situation,” the organization reinforced.
Local activists in Sierra Leone have condemned the administration’s inadequacy of clearness in recent days as they pursue transparency on the essence of the project. Robert Besseling, Chief Executive Officer of Political Risk Consultancy Pangea-Risk, told CNBC on Tuesday, May 20th, 2021 that the obscurity of the bargain could come out
“derailing it” or at least result in additional opposition.
“Firstly, there is a lack of transparency over the Sierra Leonean government’s land equity and Chinese cash grant deal, which is raising concerns over potential corruption and could subject it to parliamentary probing,” he mumbled.
“Secondly, any forced displacement of residents around the project site might be rendered unconstitutional based on current land rights provisions.”
Besseling remarked that, the fisheries deal differed from the administration’s earlier unwillingness to deal with Chinese counterparties. Soon after taking office in April 2018, President Julius Maada Bio revoked several high-profile contracts, including a $400 million airport construction deal subsidized by a Chinese loan.
The administration of Sierra Leone disagreed at the time that, there was no business case for the new airport outside the capital Freetown and rather pledged to refurbish its existing airport.
“The lack of financing opportunities during the pandemic may indicate that Sierra Leone is in an increasingly returning to China’s sphere of influence and is now seeking more Chinese lending for development and infrastructure projects,” Besseling expanded.
For New Africa Business News (NABN) Brian MBowe Reports
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