By Lansana Fofanah.
The Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Dr. Morie Manyeh and staff of the National Mineral Agency (NMA) on Friday the 15th of March, 2019, visited Koryadu town in Kono District to have a first-hand account of the Peace Diamond Project. The visit was the second visit the Minister has made to the project site with the aim of meeting the Ministry`s deadline for the implementation of the project.
The Peace Diamond Project is a government initiative that seeks to construct modern primary school, advance hospital, staff quarters for teachers and health workers, good water facility and solar light for Koryadu Town after the discovery of the 709 carats diamond in the township by an artisanal miner, Pastor Momoh.
The Consultant of Architectural Engineering Service (AES), Mohamed Coomber took the team around the site and explained in details every facility that is under construction and responded to questions posed for clarification.
Addressing town elders after a conducted tour of the site, the Minister said that when the Sierra Leone Peoples Party came to power, they met the project in shambles, and far below the actual studies meant for the Project. With the coming of the New Administration, a halt was put to the whole process until an Engineering firm was secured to undertake the Project. Following rapid construction work by the Engineering firm, the people have shown appreciation as seen in the level of optimism expressed by both the traditional leaders and the people. The Minister assured the people that the project will truly reflect the design of the Architect and that government will ensure qualified teachers and nurses are employed there as the project will act as a feeder unit to support surrounding villages. “This project is not going to be a white elephant. We are working with line ministries to ensure the people get what they deserve,” Dr. Manyeh stressed.
The Permanent Secretary, Mr. Brima Sowa said that when the Peace Diamond was sold, government decided to use some amount of government shares to develop the town by constructing certain essential facilities which were pressing needs of the people and their generations yet unborn. He said that the re-negotiation of the project with the Contractor, Gouji Construction Company led to the expansion of every facility with the construction of bole holes for the facilities and the grading of ten kilometers road leading to the village; all cost embedded in the original agreement between the government and the community elders.
The Head-man of Koryadu, Sahr Lebbie said that it was a blessing for a small community to have a modernized primary school and a health facility that cannot be found in any part of Kono district. “Just within a month, we have seen great progress and rapid improvement on the project as the work is a standard one”, noted the Headman. He expressed his town’s disappointment at their Member of Parliament and Councilor who have never paid a visit to the site to know how the work is progressing.
Mr. Sahr Kamingty, the Local Content Monitoring Officer of the National Mineral Agency expressed concern over the low number of local workers employed by the Contractor, given that there is a big pool of local workers that should be employed for work on the Project.
Responding, the Site Engineer, Melvin Aiah Tenafoe, said that most of the people prefer mining to construction and the only alternative the company has was to take some workers from Freetown that are not engaged in mining as the life span of the Project is planned to end within the next four months.