By Stephen Douglas

Black Johnson, Sierra Leone: A proposed fish harbour complex at Black Johnson Beach is facing fierce opposition fueled by a scathing critique of the Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA) Report. Jane Aspen-Gbandewa, a resident and environmental advocate, has leveled severe accusations against the Black Eagle SL Ltd. report, calling it “not fit for purpose” and rife with errors, misleading statements, and conflicts of interest.

Aspen’s detailed response highlights numerous issues with the ESHIA, including, Factual errors: Misspellings, inaccurate references to the Constitution, and questionable claims about land acquisition cast doubt on the report’s reliability. Misleading information: Aspen challenges descriptions of the rainforest and surrounding wildlife, arguing for stronger protection of sensitive ecosystems.

Unfeasible proposals. The suggestion of an integrated marine park with captive whales, dolphins, and manatees has sparked international outrage and contradicts environmental best practices. Concerns about the Consultants. Adding to the controversy, Aspen raises questions about the Black Eagle Group and its consultants:

Lack of transparency: No website, online presence, or history of conducting ESHIAs raise concerns about the company’s qualifications and legitimacy.Potential conflicts of interest: Several consultants, including individuals working at Ocean Marine Services and the University of Sierra Leone, have ties to entities potentially benefiting from the harbour project.

Missing qualifications,Biographical details and relevant expertise of some consultants are absent, prompting concerns about their suitability for conducting the ESHIA.

Urgent Call for Action

Aspen’s critique demands a thorough investigation into the ESHIA and the Black Eagle Group. She emphasizes the need for, Independent review: A qualified, unbiased team should re-evaluate the ESHIA and address the identified flaws.The government and EPA must clarify the selection process for the ESHIA consultant and explain their rationale for considering Black Eagle SL Ltd. Protection of Black Johnson: Prioritizing environmental concerns and respecting community voices are crucial before considering any development plans for the pristine beach and its ecosystem.

Black Johnson Beach stands at a crossroads. Will it become a hub for responsible development, respecting the environment and local communities? Or will it fall victim to flawed assessments and questionable intentions? The answers lie in the willingness of authorities to address the concerns raised and prioritize transparency and sustainability over rushed, potentially damaging projects.

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