The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) at Police Headquarters. The MoU is for the monitoring the operations of companies, businesses and people to enhance compliance with environment protection laws and promote enforcement procedures.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the EPA-SL and the Sierra Leone Police is expected to enhance effective tracking, investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes in Sierra Leone; share information and knowledge on environmental crimes, banned, controlled and hazardous substances and their impact on the environment and develop pathways for compliance and enforcement of the legal regulatory framework on them; assist in enforcing environmental compliance by effecting arrests and investigating environmental crimes with the help of the Agency.
To achieve the objectives for which the MoU was signed, the two parties shall, among other things, establish a Bilateral Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Coordination Crime Unit (BECECC) consisting of officials of the Environmental Crime Unit or its equivalent of the force and three representatives of the Agency (preferably two lawyers and a representative from the Field Operations and Extension-FOE department); establish an Environmental Crime Desk (ECD) in all districts for the effective coordination, tracking and investigation of environmental crimes across the country.
“Our survival on planet earth, and in particular as a nation, depends on the safety, security and preservation of our environment,” the Executive Chairman of EPA said, adding that; “our current environment requires all of us to take concrete and collaborative steps for its effective protection and management.”
Dr. Bondi Gevao said “our forests are seriously depleted as a result of illegal and unregulated logging, bush pole production to support the construction industry, housing construction and development schemes,” noting that, “this is already having a telling effect on climate change and affecting the capacity of our forests to provide their numerous services for human and development, and accelerating the levels of flooding and erosion in all parts of the country.”
He added that “our sea is being filled with ocean debris including plastic wastes and their products as a result of negative land use activities. This has a huge negative impact on lives below water.”
“Our rivers are being polluted by illegal, and sometimes legal but irresponsible mining activities… The nature and quality of our soil is being altered as a result of quarrying activities, chemical use in agricultural and industrial activities, unsustainable farming practice including shifting cultivation, irresponsible bush burning, and construction of houses in wetlands and hilltop areas… The impact of this on food production, flooding and excessive heat is obvious,” Dr. Gevao concluded.
The Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, Ambrose Michael Sovula said the purpose for which police exist is to enforce laws, to support all MDAs in enforcing their laws so that peace and harmony will reign in the country. He assured EPA of maximum support in order to ensure compliance.
IG Sovula said the environment is under threat in Sierra Leone, noting that “If we do not protect it now, it will be disastrous for all of us.”