Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Environment Minister Threatens Harsh Punishment for Violation of Environmental Laws

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By: Dawda Baldeh

The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources, Rohey John Manjang, has warned that her ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Lands and Local Governments, will take severe action against anyone found violating environmental laws in the country.

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She made these remarks during her site visit to the Brikamanding community in Kiang West, Lower River Region.

She emphasized that some people do not care about managing the environment, especially regarding trees, noting that leaders of violators will face harsh punishment.

Key among them are the Alkalos (Village Heads), whom the Minister criticized, stating, “we will not take things lightly,” and the law will be fully enforced.

She highlighted that cutting trees without permission is illegal in the country.

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Furthermore, she emphasized that Alkalos should be law-abiding and not expect leniency.

The Environment Minister cited an example of an Alkalo in Brikanding who violated the law by felling a tree, selling it, and operating charcoal ovens.

She stated they will engage with the ministry responsible for Alkalos to determine appropriate action against him.

Additionally, she called for a review of forestry laws to ensure heavy fines for offenders.

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“That means it is a lucrative business for them,” she said.

She stressed that Alkalos are expected to be frontline enforcers of the law but will face severe consequences if they violate it.

“We have to ensure the law is executed fully.

If we have to search for violators under their beds, we will do so to demonstrate that laws exist and apply to everyone,” she emphasized.

She acknowledged that the country belongs to all citizens, and protecting the environment is everyone’s responsibility.

“We cannot accept excuses anymore,” she noted, adding that government forests should be managed better than community forests because citizens are part of the government.

Subsequently, the minister also observed that herdsmen who roam from country to country to graze their animals are becoming more destructive to the environment.

“We understand there is an ECOWAS Protocol on the free movement of goods and services, but it must comply with the country’s laws.

You cannot leave your country and come to another country without respecting its rules and regulations. This is unacceptable,” she said.

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