By Hassan Bruz
Pepel is the Headquarter Town of the newly de-amalgamated Chiefdom of Kamasondo in the North West District of Port Loko and it doubles as the Iron Ore Shipment Port of Sierra Leone. But as in the case of almost all Locations where Minerals are mined in this Country, there is hardly anything tangible for the Inhabitants of those Localities to point at as being derived from the immense riches carved out by the Mining Companies operating in their Areas. Even the Roads that lead to those Places are horrible regardless the fact that they are being plied by Personnel of these Mining Companies on daily bases. The Locals could not even secure gainful employments without a tussle. As a consequent, their Towns and Villages have continued to deteriorate with no semblance of development. A lot of the Inhabitants of these Areas often wonder ‘why can one reside on the bank of a River and continue to wash his or her hands with spittle’
The Pepel Shipping Port is currently being used by the Kingho Railway and Port Mining Company Limited. But the Natives are of the firm belief that the Company is not treating them with the deserved seriousness. They claim to be very highly marginalized with regards Recruitment for jobs in the company. Apart from what is seen as an odd relationship with the Community Relations Department of the Company and what is often referred to as ‘Political Interference’ with the catchphrase – ‘Powers from the above’, the People of Pepel speak of high shady involvement of the Company’s Supervisors in the recruitment process. It appears only those who could bribe their way or bask with Political links that stand the opportunity to be recruited despite the notion that the Pepel Port is the Farm and main hope for gainful employment.
The attention of the Vice President – Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh was drawn to a recent incident in which the Barray of the Kamasondo Chiefdom Caretaker Chief – Pa Komrabai Lawyer Kabia was completely burnt down by an aggrieved young man. Sources say the Commercial Motorbike Rider / ‘Orkada Rider’ had to sell his Motorbike in a bid to raise the amount of money he was allegedly asked to pay by the Council of the Regent Chief to enable him secure a job in the Company. Unfortunately, his name was not mentioned on the list of those slated for recruitment. He became so angry on the last day of the recruitment process after he realized that the Chiefs were only making the fool out of him. The young man then quickly rushed to the Chief’s Barray and set it ablaze. Rumor has it that there are several other aggrieved Persons who were determined to carry out similar actions.
Interestingly, the Kamassondo Chiefdom Caretaker Chief accused Mr. Mohamed Alpha Gassama aka ‘Mr. Top Man’ of being the brain behind the burning of his Barray. Pa Komrabai Lawyer Kabia subsequently filed a letter of Complaint to the Senior District Officer in Port Loko with copies to a lot of Stakeholders. Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh who is also an indigene of that Area, therefore dispatched a 3 Man Team comprising Mr. Moses Henry Kamara, Mr. Mohamed Jalloh and the same Mr. Mohamed Alpha Gassama to Pepel. They went with a special mandate to dissolve the then Recruitment Committee in Pepel and also debar the Chiefdom Caretaker Chief from anything that has to do with the Recruitment Process.
The message of the Vice President was delivered at a well-attended meeting conducted at the Pepel Community Barry and was graced by the Port Loko Senior District Officer together with representatives from the Office of National Security [ONS] and other Human Rights Bodies. Mr. Moses Henry Kamara who chaired the deliberations said, Vice President Juldeh Jalloh was displeased with the recent incident at Pepel and was desirous for a peaceful resolution because he wanted to foster development in that Locality. He therefore admonished the cooperation of all and sundry.
Mr. Mohamed Alpha Gassama aka Mr. Top Man was the first to take the Podium in the capacity of former Chairman of the defunct Recruitment Committee. He used the opportunity to explain the several functions he has not only in the sister Chiefdoms of Kamassondo and Lokomasama, but the District of Port Loko as a whole, where he serves as ‘the Machine Ring Provider in Agriculture’ for Port Loko and the Western Rural Districts. He said the Vice President had personally instructed him to pay an oversight role in the sister Chiefdoms and that his principal duty was to proffer workable solutions to misunderstandings amongst the Locals, and to as well enhance development in the respective Areas. ‘Mr. Top Man’ received a thunderous applaud when he made mention of his efforts to ensure that there are equal employment opportunities for People of Kamassondo and Lokomasama in the Kingho Mining Company, and how he was never given a free hand to operate as Chairman of the Recruitment Committee. ‘I was thus puzzled when I got wind of the letter of Complaint from the Regent Chief accusing me as the person who incited the burning of his Barray. I went to find out about the crux of the matter and to enhance peace when I heard of the incident but I was unable to get the cooperation of some Stakeholders. I am hence glad now that the Vice Present has sent in a Team to resolve the impasse’ – Mr. Top Man reiterated.
The Chiefdom Caretaker Chief – Pa Komrabai Lawyer Kabia was the next to take the Platform. Although he managed to inform the Team that a quota of 72 Names for Recruitment was recently issued out by the Kingho Mining Company and that the distribution was badly done, he was booed at by the Crowds which accused him of corrupt tendencies and had to cut short his speech adding that the People of Kamassondo do not have respect for him. The Section and Chiefdom Youth Leaders in their separate contributions outlined the lack of leadership and need for gainful employment. Amadu Kamara and Mohamed Kamara expressed the hope for a peaceful settlement of the impasse in the interest of Peace and Development of Kamasondo Chiefdom especially now that the Vice President has intervened.
Several other speakers including the Chiefdom Mammy Queen – Fatmata Kamara said, Women were in dare need for assistance and wondered how such could be achieved if the Stakeholders are not United. While urging for Unity, they made specific appeal to the Management of Kingho Mining Company for the Catering and Cleaning Jobs to be allocated to Women in the Chiefdom where the bulk of them cannot boast of any formal western education. The consideration of the Vice President’s Team Lead – Mr. Mohamed Jalloh who doubled as the Elder brother to Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, was drawn to some of the Banners displayed at the Community Hall where the meeting was conducted. They read as follows – ‘We have no money to buy jobs, We are hungry and angry, We are segregated with impunity, Sawaneh – the Human Resource Officer in Pepel is corrupt and must go, Prince is a recipe for chaos, We were promised a first priority, We hold our Leaders Accountable and We need consultative selection for positions of trust in our Community’.
Mr. Mohamed Jalloh thanked all especially those who have come out to speak their minds. He said the Regent Chief was appointed by President Julius Maada Bio with the support of Vice President Juldeh Jalloh and has to be respected by all means. He explained how the incident which occurred on 7th September 2021 in Pepel necessitated the mapping out of certain Resolutions they have been instructed to deliver to the People of Pepel. He said the Resolutions were developed after thorough deliberations on workable solutions for a lasting peace. He said, ‘One of the 6 Resolutions is to Dissolve the Recruitment Committee and have it replaced with immediate effect. The New Committee he went on, shall be chaired by the Vice President himself and would be represented by Mr. Mohamed Alpha Gassama aka ‘Mr. Top Man’, Mr. Henry Moses Kamara and Mr. Mohamed Jalloh. It was emphasized that the Chiefdom Caretaker Chief shall not be a Member of the Committee so as to allow him ample time to concentrate on the Affairs of the Chiefdom and other Matters under his jurisdiction.