The Sierra Leone community at home and abroad were stunned to read from many foreign news outlets reporting the death of about two hundred people who had been killed in a mining accident in Baomahun in the Southern province.
However, their worries and fears were short-lived when reports surfaced again with Minister of Mines, Mineral Resources and Political Affairs, Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu disputing earlier reports of an accident and in fact stating categorically that such reports was not only a complete hoax but one fabricated by people with vicious propaganda.
A day after leaving Baomahun where Minister Kanu had arrived with some government officials, police officers and soldiers among others, I caught up with him on his mobile/cell phone at Rokulan in the Sanda chiefdom. Alpha Khan as he is commonly called was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Anthony Kamara: Minister Kanu can you confirm that reports that have circulated all over the world about the death of 200 people in a mining town never occurred?
Alhaji Alpha Sahid Kanu: You have my confirmation of that and 100% of that matter. I went there myself and found the area to be safe and quiet. People were preparing for Friday prayers and there was absolutely no sign of any disaster, Mr. Kamara.
AK: So you are absolutely sure that this was just a hoax right?
Kanu: It was a false, vicious rumour and a wicked propaganda meant to divert the current government attention from doing the things we were elected to do. The business of the people is our top most priority. There was no mining accident. It is inconceivable to have that kind of accident in Sierra Leone. We don’t have an underground mining. All we do is surface mining.
AK: Why would people choose to deliberately peddle such false stories and cause alarm?
Kanu: That’s the big question that we are all faced with. You see Mr. Kamara, there are people who don’t want to hear good news coming out of Sierra Leone. These are people who are not happy because Sierra Leone under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma is making giant strides.
All you hear these days is good news; you hear about the construction of roads, the delivery of free medical service on April 27 which will cover children under five, pregnant and lactating women and also the very old.
Thatâ€™s not all; we are working hard to improve our school system and trying hard to bring energy and electricity in all of our rural areas. Recently, the president launched a 30km drive to construct our roads in Freetown which includes 25km in each of our regional headquarters and 10km in area districts.
There is so much more we have been working hard to accomplish but of course as you would imagine that is not good news or good music to our distracters. But the truth is whatever they do; the government of President Koroma is determined to change Sierra Leone for the good of all. We will not be distracted from accomplishing the work this government was elected to do for the people of Sierra Leone. We are not only focused but will always remain true and faithful to our â€œagenda for change as articulated by President Koroma.
AK: Do you realize that even as Sierra Leoneans are now at peace with the confirmation that the accident did not happen, there are still many questions lingering out there that many would love to see answered?
Kanu: I think I can understand the feelings of patriotic Sierra Leoneans and they have the right to ask questions. However, the good news is that the sad news was short-lived and temporary. We are thankful nothing happened at all. Thank God, such a tragedy did not occur. We are talking about lives here, Mr. Kamara. Don’t these people realize what a tragedy this would have been for our nation? I mean these people have relatives and let’s just imagine that all 200 have ten relatives each, do you see how many people would have been directly affected? Without a doubt, it would have affected all of us because we are Sierra Leoneans and we care deeply about each other. I am very happy to report and repeat what I have said to other news organization that â€œnot even a chicken or goat was hurt.
AK: Yesterday, you were in Baomahun in the Southern Province. Today, you are in the Northern Province. What brings you to Rokulan?
Kanu: I am in Rokulan to witness the by-elections taking place to fill the sit vacated by former Member of Parliament, Hon. Eddie Turay who is now serving our country Sierra Leone as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
AK: How’s the election going? Are you confident of a victory?
Kanu: Well, I think we are going to win. The election is being contested by all three parties but with 80% of the results so far in, the APC is leading by a wide margin; about 75%. I am looking forward to travelling to Makeni where I will deliver the good news to the president.
AK: Thank you for your time, good luck and have a safe trip.
Kanu: Thank you, too.Courtesy of Anthony Kamara, Jnr.
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