By Nyima Touray
The Council of elders of the coastal village of Kombo Kartong, has rejected a private investor’s proposal to mine the village’s beach sand.
The coastal village of Kartong which lies in Kombo South of West Coast Region, has this week seen renewed interest in sand mining. A private investor is believed to have approached the village head in a series of meetings the proposal was rejected each time by the council of elders in the village.
In 2015, the youths of Kartong famously called ‘Kartong 33’ were involved in a fracas which resulted in their arrest, charge and torture; they were also denied bail. The case was subsequently dropped.
Following failed discussions to halt the sand mining activity, the youths confronted the miners at the mining site. They were concerned about the grave environmental damage the mining was causing the village in the form of an accelerated coastal erosion since the mining, and an infestation of mosquitoes caused by the stagnant water from the excavated site. This water pit also turned out to attract other wildlife that posed danger to the villagers’ health, such as snakes and crocodiles. The miners failure to return the excavated site to as close to its original state as possible meant it held a great risk to the local community and their livelihood. A 12 year old boy drowned in the same mining pit in 2015.
The sand mining took place near horticultural land where the villagers used to cultivate rice and other vegetables for domestic use.
Given the past issues with sand mining and other mining in the area, and memories of ill treatment the 33 youth had to endure under the former government’s rule which no doubt is still raw, the villagers could not in good conscience allow the private investor the opportunity to invest in sand mining in the area.