President Bio through a State House Press Release lifted the ban on the export of timber which is a multi-million dollar deal.
In the press release, State House single-handedly handpicked an agent to become the government agent.
This comes at a time when Sierra Leone is the third most at risk country in the world in terms of climate change. The ban was imposed on timber some weeks ago by the President Bio but the same President has lifted the ban with no stated reason(s) leaving same to wild presumptions.
Many people believed that the reason ban on the export of raw and unprocessed timber was lifted is as a result of the recent rise in the exchange rate for which solutions has eluded the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa and other professionals in the ministry.
That the only fast-tracked remedy they can fathom is the export of timber at the expense of the destruction of Sierra Leone’s ecosystem.
Former United Nations strongman and leader of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) in Parliament, Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella explained his disappointment over the fact that the President has lifted the ban on the timber trade at the expense of the country.
“…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.
According to the NGC leader, credible research on deforestation in Sierra Leone estimates that during the past few years, Sierra Leone exported 3000-4000 containers every six months.
“This is equivalent to thousands of acres of forest cover that is lost. Given that each container sells for USD 4,000 in Freetown and bought for USD 15,000 overseas, 1000 containers will fetch USD15 million whilst 4000 containers will generate USD 60 million of economic value that is lost,’’ Yumkella explained.
He added that ‘’ the NGC estimates that the proposed temporary lifting of the ban to export 13,000 containers should yield about $195 million dollars.’’
The NGC leader encouraged President Bio’s New Direction Government to ensure that a greater proportion of the amount accrues to Government and the local communities concerned.
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.
Meanwhile, it is believed that some people close to the corridors of power influenced President Bio to lift the ban on timber for some pecuniary and suspicious reason.
Details on this subsequent edition.