But then, it isn’t only Lokomasama Chiefdom that lost out from the once prosperous economic boom of the 60s, but also the rest of Port Loko District, with Sierra Leone’s Iron Ore pot at the time, Lunsar, becoming the most affected with infrastructures left unattended and old people left to lament the once beautiful days of those times.
Unfortunately for this country, and though other mining activities have since been taking place, yet the people were not benefiting from their natural resources and not even talk of adherence to corporate social responsibilities.
But with the coming of President Ernest Bai Koroma with a desire to change the predicament of his people, he looked at the policies of the country and addressed the shortfalls within, so that the people of Sierra Leone and communities where mining activities are taking place benefit from their resources: thus the review of the Mining Policy and better options adopted!
And today, Lokomasama Chiefdom is smiling! As well as the others that are getting the rent of their land and compensation for their crops as well as getting direct support through community support projects from the activities of mining companies, especially African Minerals Sierra Leone Ltd, which presence in any chiefdom is always characterized with economic empowerment and opportunities.
Left behind to the care of crabs and the battering waves of the sea, Pepel Island’s only inhabitants were old people whose activities were limited to fishing with her young folks sitting on the banks of far-off shores and mourning the falling debris of the decaying houses, which remnants, again battered by marauding combatants in the 90s, made the people poorer and thus causing their children to lose hope of returning back.
The history of the rise and fall of Pepel Island will bring back memories of emotions and tears; and the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, during his keynote address to the people of Lokomasama Chiefdom during the commissioning of community investment and sustainable projects by African Minerals Sierra Leone Ltd., reawakened the chords of rhythms that again made the people danced in hope and longing for prosperity and happier days ahead.
“Pepel was a ghost town but today the activities show Pepel has sprung back to life,” President Koroma said to the excited crowd, adding that Sierra Leoneans must thank God AML has lived up to their commitment; because due to their commitment, with the support of other stakeholders, Sierra Leone is regarded as the second fastest growing country in the world.
“We should all hold fast and continue to climb up. Sierra Leone now, with the support of AML will continue to climb up. They are not only here to mine but to help the economy to grow and for the people to benefit,” he said, adding that the projects are to develop the local content which is vital for the development of any community.
“The activities of AML are in many chiefdoms and benefiting the people. I, as a President and my Government, focus on development. By what African Minerals is doing we will not turn back but will continue to support AML. Those who are trying to distract us must know they will not succeed,” he said amidst applause.
The response by the people was unexpected with drums talking at random and people shuffling and wobbling to the various beats of Bubu, Bondo, Ojeh and others, while the women, in different groups, dressed in their regalia to match the occasion. Our President was constantly made to smile to the welcome and appreciation by the people of the chiefdom, especially the indigenes and residents of Pepel.
His efforts in creating the enabling environment has paid-off throughout the country with youth organizations, hardly thought to have had the opportunity to associate themselves with the national leadership, now going public with their support for the leadership of H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
And to give credence to his successful efforts in changing the face of our nation for the better, the Executive Chairman of African Minerals Sierra Leone Ltd., Gibril Moseray Fadika, said he has never seen a leader in Sierra Leone who is development oriented than H.E. Dr. President Ernest Bai Koroma.
“African Minerals is working to change the lives of the people. Sierra Leone has got a good president and an African Romanian brother, who are ensuring Sierra Leoneans benefit from their minerals,” he said, adding that the President implored them to promise him that AML will help change the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.
“We are looking at sustainable development and nobody will reverse the landmark of the President. This is not a political thing but to promote national development and everyone should be onboard to support processes of development,” he said.
The buildings and infrastructural development of USD443, 600, approximately LE1, 931,660,000, in Pepel Island, will go a long way in improving the social status of the residents; and it is now left with our people to take advantage of the opportunity and complement efforts of the President and Government to better themselves and children, something which the CEO of the company, Mr. Frank Timis, reiterated while making a statement during the occasion.
“I hoped AML can do more for the children of Pepel,” Mr. Frank Timis said.
AML is able to champion causes of community development because the pioneers have the people at heart and not to exploit them, as could be said of Mr. Frank Timis, whose presence in Sierra Leone has made him more of an indigene rather than an investor. Many Sierra Leoneans hardly thought of him to be living in the country but one living in the plush mansions of the West and enjoying his money. Unfortunately, Mr. Timis and his brother, Mr. Fadika, are deep in the pitch with the Sierra Leone economic team; dribbling and passing the economic footballs with the people of Sierra Leone, for economic growth and development while the President holds the midfield strong!
As the wind of development blows in Lokomasama Chiefdom, so it is nationwide and the President has also called on all Sierra Leoneans to be on board in the country’s quest for economic growth and sustainable development.
“We should all hold fast and continue to climb up. Sierra Leone now, with the support of AML will continue to climb up. They are not only here to mine but to help the economy to grow and for the people to benefit,” President Koroma said.