The Acting Director of Water and Technical Services at the Guma Valley Water Company, Ibrahim C. Bah has said that Guma is working with the China Henan International Corporation Group (CHICO) and Stakeholders to implement a 20-month project at Angola Town that will see some communities in Peninsular area receiving uninterrupted water supply on its completion.

Engineer Bah was speaking on Wednesday 14th September, 2022 at the Edge Night Club at Ogoo Farm during a public disclosure of the company’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Angola Town Water Supply Project, presented by the Construction, Engineering, Manufacturing, Management and Technical Services Group (CEMMATS) and Mintech to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Stakeholders of the beneficiary communities.

“The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is a process to mitigate or reduce the dangers on the environment by the project”, he said, adding that Emergency community, Angola Town, Ogoo Farm, Adonkia, Lakka and Hamilton will get uninterrupted water supply after the completion of the project.

The Acting Director furthered that the Angola Water Supply project is one of the components of the Freetown WASH and Aquatic Environment Revamping Project funded by a collection of donors including the African Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Kuwaiti Fund, etc. He called on all present at the Public Disclosure to support the project and ensure that it is successfully implemented.

Introducing the ESIA process, Desmond Alie of Mintech Limited said that all organizations undertaking small or large project activities that may have an impact on the environment are required to obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) License from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in compliance with the laws of Sierra Leone. He maintained that the license would be granted upon the successful completion of the public disclosure activity.

He added that this can be achieved through the ESIA process that has been carried out by CEMMATS Group.

Jeffery Lamin Kargbo, Headman for Angola Town said that they have been engaging stakeholders of the beneficiary communities about the importance of the project, adding that the communities are ready to work with Guma Valley Water Company and other partners to ensure that the project is successful.

The Headman of Ogoo Farm, Mr. H.M.S. Kamara said that his community has suffered for so long and many of their young girls are out of school because of teenage pregnancy. He added that his people are happy to have water supply in their community, pleading with CHICO to speed up the project and complete it on time.

Nyaveh Keili from CEMMATS explained that the purpose of the environmental impact assessment is to identify and mitigate potential negative environmental impacts, whilst enhancing the positive ones. She said this is done through the conduct of desktop and field studies to obtain secondary and primary biophysical and socio-economic data.

Ms. Keili added that the assessment concluded that the project will be undertaking to build an Intake weir system, Raw Water Transmission system, Treatment plant, Clear water Storage system, Treated Water Transmission system and Clear water Distribution System that will pass through Angola Town, Adonkia, Hamilton, Ogoo Farm and Lakka communities. She furthered that they also looked at how the project will affect the air quality, soil, noise and vibration, water quality, and ecology, noting that all of these variables did not exceed the required standard limits.

Nyaveh Keili advised the contractor to observe safety precautions at all times, concluding that the positive aspect of the project outweighs the negative ones.

Speaking on the project’s social impact, Mohamed S. Mansaray from CEMMATS highlighted some of the positive impacts the project which included increased employment opportunities, a boom in small-scale businesses, higher sales for stone-miners, improved water supply, shorter travelling distance to source of potable water supply, etc.

Mr. Mansaray furthered that the ESIA studies revealed some negative impacts and these includes fear of displacement and relocation, disruption of free movement due to roadblocks and digging, disruption to trading activities on the pipe line routes, disruption to motor bike riding activity, disruption to electricity and water supply from time to time during the project life cycle.

He concluded by outlining the Mitigation plan which proposed the forming of a committee comprising of representatives from the Community, Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA), Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA), Electricity and Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) to monitor the construction and pipe installation activities. This committee, he said would help to ensure that their properties or interest are safe or provided for during the project design and implementation phase.

Isha Timbo from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it is the statutory responsibility of EPA to ensure that the environment is safe when embarking on development activities, adding that the EPA was at the event to look at the findings following which the EPA Board will sit to decide on whether to grant the EIA License to the project or not.

withThe Public disclosure event was climaxed by a question-and-answer session.