By S. U. Thoronka.
Civil Society, members of the public, government functionaries, the private sector and a cross-section of media practitioners on Tuesday witnessed the public disclosure of the ESHIA report for the Bumbuna 11 Hydroelectric project at the British Council Hall, Tower Hill, Freetown.
The public has been informed before now that the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Energy has approved and ratified the implementation of the Bumbuna 11 Hydroelectric Project, with a generation capacity of 143 Megawatts of electricity.
The components of the project according to official sources would include an extension to the existing Bumbuna 1 facility, and the development of a new hydropower dam and reservoir at Yiben, 32 KM upstream from Bumbuna.
In conformity with the provisions of the legislation of the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act 2008 and the supplementary EPA Act 2010, an Environment, Social and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA) study was conducted prior to the commencement of the physical implementation of the project.
Osmond Hanciles who deputized the Minister of Energy and by extension the Ministry noted that after seven years of hard work they have now witnessed another milestone of the construction of the second phase of the Bumbuna project.
He also noted that it is the biggest project ever in the history of Sierra Leone which cost over 700 million US dollars and that after completion it would accelerate rapid development. “The World Bank is very much interested in this project as it would increase the capacity of EDSA”, he said.
The Paramount Chief of Kalansokoya Chiefdom one of the affected communities thanked God for providing the natural resources in his community and commended the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government for his visionary leadership.
He said during the tenure of his presidency Bumbuna phase 1 was completed and phase 11 would soon start. He said the difference between phase 1 and phase 11 of the Bumbuna project is that during the implementation of the former consultations were not made as opposed to the latter and as a result his community would regard phase 11as theirs.
The Executive Chairperson of Seli Hydropower Ltd Patrick Beckley lauded his company for the disclosure of the Bumbuna Hydro project phase 11while at the same time expressing his profound gratitude to His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma for being helpful in the actualization of the project.
He said at the initial stage of their feasibility studies it was estimated that the company would produce 365Megawatts but that certain communities including Fadugu would be submerged.
He said when the report was presented to the President he advised that in as much as he was anxious to provide light for the people he was equally concerned about their welfare. Consequently, the President advised the company to produce less than the proposed Megawatts in order to save the most affected communities.
“Bumbuna 11 is a hydroelectric power project and will be located on the Upper Seli River and when completed, will provide reliable electricity all year round”, Mr. Beckley said.