Liberia: Residents of Jikardor Town in Cape Mount Demand Relocation after Chemical affected their Town
JIKARDOR TOWN, Grand Cape Mount County – Residents of Jikardor Town, Grand Cape Mount County are calling for the relocation of their town after the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation chemical spill affected their water and the explosion from the blast damaged their buildings.
According to the residents, the chemical from the Bea Mountain Mining Company has caused the only river which supplied the town with water to cook and wash got polluted with what they say is poison since May 22, 2022.
Several fishes within the river according to the residents died as the result of the poison from the chemical. Many dogs also lost their lives immediately after eating the dead fish, the residents said.
Speaking to journalists, the residents of the Jikardor Town called on the government to come to their rescue and ensure the relocation of the town as a result of the Bea Mountain Mining Company chemical spill.
“We want the government to help relocate us because we were advised by the Environmental Protection Agency not to use the river and hand-pumps. Dry season is almost here and we are afraid before something major happens to us, especially the children,” Alieu Getaweh, spokesperson of one of the Jikardor Town said.
According to Getaweh, the adults may decide not to go to the waterside but it’s difficult to control the children, adding that relocation of the town will end any future deaths or problems.
Apart from the Jikardor River, there is swamp water that was tested by the Environmental Protection Agency and was urged for residents to use. The residents say the swamp will dry in November, therefore it is prudent for the government to take action by relocating them.
“If Bea Mountain is prepared to relocate us, we will identify a place. We don’t want for something to happen to a child or our children before the government can relocate us,” Getaweh said.
Though Bea Mountain earlier denied being responsible for the pollution of the rivers. However, staff of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the chemical called Cyanide was used to wash gold but dangerous to human health was allegedly spilled from the company’s new Liberty Gold Mine in Kinjor and emptied into the rivers that villagers used for cooking, fishing, and washing.
Alieu Getaweh, spokesperson of the Jikardor Town, said there are 350 residents that are greatly being affected. The Bea Mountain supplies them with water but adding that the provision of the water supply is very low.
He furthers: “The Company recently provided 61 sacks of water which is insufficient for the many residents.”
He said since the town was mandated not to drink from the creek and the hand-pumps, the leadership urged the company to help build a reservoir to assist in supplying them water but the request is yet to materialize.
“Upon the pollution of the water, the company promised to provide supply water monthly and brought the consignment which included a few bags of rice and a sack of water. During this period, EPA tested swamp water and urged us to use it because it was safe,” he said.
He said the town is getting water through the swamp water tested by EPA and sometimes when the rain is falling, stating “sometimes we don’t go for the rain water due to the blasting from the company that fell over the roof.”
According to Getaweh, some members of the company have often visited Jikardor to test the river but failed to provide information to the leadership of the town. He said they recently tested the water twice, which raised concerns among residents of the town.
Getaweh said several residents are getting sick including one the elder who is experiencing blindness adding that urgent intervention both the government and Bea Mountain is needed.
He said the operation of the company is affecting various houses in the different towns and villages. Jikardor has around 61 family heads and almost 350 residents, which includes two villages.
He said residents from the different affected communities decided to leave but were later asked to remain calm by leaders of the county,
He furthers: “We decided to take our things and move to the company yard due to fear of bigger things.”
Upon the pollution of the river, Getaweh said the leadership mandated the company to begin supplying the different communities with water but water supply is insufficient for the huge population of the towns.
Bendu Dukuly, 23, a mother of two is a victim of the Bea Mountain chemical spill in Jikardor town, Grand Cape Mount County. She has complained of pain and continued itching of her skin as she craves for support to seek good medical attention.
“We do not know about chemicals being dumped into the river. My brothers and I went down the river to go fishing. After we retired from the fishing, I then decided to have my bath later during the evening hour at the upper part of the river and this led to the start of skin itching later during the night and continued up to day,” Dukuly said.
Dukuly said she has spent around US$100.00 for treatment and has helped to reduce the itching of my body and the continued blisters over my body which affected me greatly.
“I went to the hospital and was given treatment. I was asked to buy additional medicines to reduce the itching of my body. It’s now helping to erase the marks from my skin. I also went to Kinjor Hospital which is owned by Bea Mountain but did not get enough treatment,” Dukuly asserted.
Dukuly said the river was used to kill fishes for business purposes, cooking and washing but the chemical spill has stopped everything.