Credible reports on the desk of New Age have exposed the multi-million dollar timber trade in Sierra Leone which has been ongoing at the detriment of the country’s environment.
The reports exposed the handpicked agent of President Bio and his government on the timber trade, Babadie Kamara and his Lead Way Trading Company.
That Babadie Kamara being the government agent that should facilitate the exporting of already cut raw and unprocessed timbers is being accused by exporters of extortion.
That Babadie Kamara is even taking up to $5,000 from the exporters per container for which he is giving the government of Sierra Leone the sum of $1,500 for same.
To his credit, when Julius Maada Bio was elected on April 4 2018, he banned the timber trade on April 9, only for him to lift the ban on June 28 and single handedly put the timber trade in the control of one of his political cronies, Babadie Kamara.
The ban was lifted at a time when Sierra Leone is the third most risk country in the world in terms of climate change.
Former United Nations strongman and leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) in Parliament, Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella had expressed disappointment over the lifting of the ban on timber.
“…as the Leader of the NGC Parliamentary Group, I decided to visit the old Hastings Airport on Sunday, 24 June 2018. On the way, I discovered to my utter chagrin, several locations along the Wellington-Masiaka highway that serve as staging grounds for the illegal export of lumber from Sierra Leone. These are some of the many graveyards for our forests,’’ the leader of NGC stated.
Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella said that the NGC estimates that the proposed temporary lifting of the ban to export 13,000 containers should yield about $195 million dollars.’’
He said that the Government should assure the country that there is a sunset clause for the lifting of the ban and to indicate exactly when the final ban will come into force again.
Lawyer cum Environmentalist Sonkita Conteh, director of Nemati told a local newspaper that the problem is Sierra Leone is losing its forest at a very fast pace and that if they don’t take steps to protect what remains, the future is bleak for this country.
He said the release from government showed an imbalance approach to the whole process of environmental protection, which they had claimed was a priority of the new administration.
Lawyer Sonkita said the part of the press release that worries him is where the government indicated that there were about 13,000 containers of timber without any proper research as to how they got to that amount.
“The release failed to address what is important to me, which is who to protect what is left on our land and forests. It is useful to take steps to ensure proper recovery of taxes. We want the committee to tell us how they have gone about advising the government to protect the remaining land that we have now,” Lawyer Conteh urges
Babadie Kamara confirmed to New Age that he is a business man and that he will take whatever money he wants from business men for the timber export on the pretext of operational costs.
“I can ever take 20,000 Dollars, 10,000 Dollars as the case may be,” Babadie Kamara reiterated.
It is believed that Babadie Kamara was amongst those who were controlling the campaign finances of President Bio, a question he (Babadie Kamara) said has nothing to do with the timber trade.
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