Shandong Iron and Steel Group has paid close to one billion Leones to over seven chiefdoms in the northern districts of Bombali, Tonkolili and Port Loko. The COO of the Company Scott Lewis said the payment is a way of reaffirming the Company’s commitment to operate in the communities.
The Head of Cooperate Affairs and Government and Community Relations, Amb. Anthony Navo (Jnr) said the Company respects the Mines and Minerals Act. He said the Company will continue to work within the legal provisions and work with the community people.
Speaking on behalf of the Lokomasama Chiefdom, Paramount Chief Bai MaroAngbanthor said they were delighted to received the surface rent because it ushers in a new hope to his subjects. He said the rent symbolized the commitment of Shandong Iron and Steel Group to operate and help build his chiefdom.
Alhaji Kamara, a land owner expressed happiness for the surface rent paid by the Company. He however noted that the Company is doing so much in terms of meeting its Cooperate Social Responsibility and obligations, but that effort is being undermined by the thieving of the rail clips by community people who sell them as scrap metals.
According to Paramount Chief AdikalieMella of the Marfoki Chiefdom, the company continues to show that they have the interest of the people. He said that commitment should the basis for the protection of the Company’s properties which will continue to see the company putting smiles on their faces by paying the surface rent and undertake their cooperate social responsibility.
The District Chairman for the Port Loko District Council extolled the Shandong Steel for the rent payment, while citing that the phenomenon is not new, but the transparent and accountable manner the company is doing is unique. He said the community people need to make the environment conducive for the Company which in turn will see more developments and job opportunities for the locals.
He urged the Paramount Chiefs to institute bye-laws that will prohibit the sales of scrap metal, while calling on the police not to compromise matters of theft.
The Chairman for the Bombali District Council, Alhaji Kamathor Sesay catalogued series of development projects being undertaken by the Council and financed by Shandong. Among the projects he highlighted are: construction of culverts, community center, the Bumbuna Roundabout, the completion of the Ernest Bai Koroma Secondary School and furnishing the council hall with Air Conditioners, chairs and PA System amongst others. He urged the people to see themselves as partners to the project.
Following the payments of the surface rent, the people and Paramount Chief of Diyang Chiefdom called on the Shandong Steel to start it mining operations in the Chiefdom so they too could benefit a lot like the other chiefdoms. The Paramount Chief applauded the move of the Company, while urging them to explore his land which he said has more iron ore deposit than all other areas being explored.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Mines, Hon. AmaduKanu said he was very pleased with the move of Shandong to pay surface rent which signified the start of its operation. He said the Company has been contributing immensely to the development of Sierra Leone through the construction of schools and awards of scholarships,job creations, health improvement facilities and other social and recreational centers.
He said the Company has not violated any legal provisions guiding the mining industry. He said transparency and accountability have been the hallmark of President Ernest Bai Koroma, and that has been augmented by Shandong Steel in paying the surface rent.
Hon. Rose Marie Bangura of Tonkolili applauded the Company for honoring its commitment to pay the rent amid the global predicament of falling Iron Ore Price. She urged the recipients to utilize the surface rent judiciously for the development of their communities. She said the Company is thinking of establishing a skill training center that will reposition the young people, especially the youth for the job market. She commended the company, while adding that in the midst of the storm they were able to meet their obligations to the people.
She said that gives a strong reason for the community people to partner with the Company.
Speaking on behalf of the Environment Protection Agency, the Head for the North Bintu Kelfala said the payment of the surface rent is in line with the provision of the law. She said they have been assessing the activities of mining companies, but Shandong has always been in full compliance with the law as shown in the payment of rent.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.