The National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) is currently putting together its administrative measures after the current Executive Director; Dr. Kolleh Bangura has proven his incompetence not only in the area of management of donor funds but also management of the country’s Forest Reserves and other Protected Areas.
Dr. Kolleh Bangura’s poor leadership is connected to several factors, among which are allegations of mismanagement of donor funds; especially the sum of €394, 000, which was dished out by the European Union Delegation for the ‘REDD+ Capacity Building in Sierra Leone’ project. The Government of Sierra Leone is also faced by another embarrassment after the donors requested for a refund of the project money, which has yielded no dividend.
The project is part of the Global Climate Change Alliance programme that should pilot the REDD+ at the national level and build the capacity of the Forestry Division at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) to implement REDD+. The National REDD+ programme became operational in 2013. The project was later transferred to the NPAA with the hope that it will be thoroughly managed. The failure of Dr. Kolleh Bangura’s leadership to implement what the REDD+ project required that should result improve the good image of the government of Sierra Leone and the project and not into disrepute has become a disappointment.
The European Union Delegation’s request was made at a meeting held at the Conference Room of the Agriculture Ministry, which led to senior officials presently facing serious embarrassment after they were accused of lack proper supervision of the REDD+ project.
Since it was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security on 5th November 2014, the NPAA is tasked with the responsibility of preventing housing construction, quarrying, stone breaking or gathering, logging, charcoal burning, farming, extraction and forms of forest clearance within the national park in accordance with the wildlife conservation Act 1972 and the National Protection Area Authority and the Conservation Trust Fund Act 2012. According to the act, “…any vehicle transporting stones, charcoal, timber and wood harvested from the National Park will be detained and handed over to the police for prosecution”
Dr. Kolleh Bangura’s leadership has showcased mal-performance with clear evidence of encroachment on lands in the Western Area Peninsular Forest Area that was declared a protected area by His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. Whether Dr. Kolleh Bangura is directly involved in the sale of land to the encroachers or neglecting his responsibility to protect the Grafton-Regent Protected Area is something the authorities concern should investigate.
Dr. Bangura is accused of employing over 300 Forest Guards that are not visible in the various areas that warrant protection. Although NPAA is allegedly collecting billions of Leones as salaries and other expenditures for poor services rendered to the public. Observers are of the opinion that this is complete waste of tax payers’ and donor funds.
NPAA is to operate under the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security. The decision of the former Minister, Dr. Sam Sesay and Dr. Kolleh Bangura to make it a separate entity, has led to continuous waste of government resources.
When contacted, Dr. Kolleh Bangura explained that the NPAA is a corporate body supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture. He noted that they have not received an official letter from the EU relating to the REDD+ project money, which was dished out to the Authority by the Ministry of Agriculture as a grant. He revealed that NPAA employed 300 Forest Guards, six have been sacked and the 294 are currently operating across the country. He added that they are hoping to employ Ex-service men for effective and efficient service delivery. Meanwhile the Authority is currently on the process of demarcating the forest protected area at the Grafton-Regent Highway for its protection.
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry, Mr. Edward Kargbo has told this medium on Wednesday that investigations are ongoing. He said even though they are yet to tell as to whether NPAA should refund the project money or not, the Ministry has written to the Authority informing its officials about the investigations and allegations levied relating to mismanagement of donor funds.