The National Water Resources Management Agency (NWRMA) has today sealed off the business address of Sea Coach Express at Aberdeen Bridge in Freetown, for failure to obtain a water use permit.
This move comes after multiple attempts to get the management of the ferry company to regularize its use of water as a means of transportation.
Prior to today’s enforcement operation, the Agency had on several occasions engaged businesses on the need to regularize their operations with the water management laws, especially so when they use the water for economic gains.
Leading the team, the Director of Legal, Regulations and Outreach at NWRMA- Abu Bakarr Iscandri Conteh Esq. said the operation is borne out of a series of consultations and eventual partnership with the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), to bring to book businesses who have been violating the country’s water resources management laws. He further said they were closing down Sea Coach Express because the Agency had paid multiple visits and written many letters of warning to the business, but to no avail.
“Section 29 of the National Water Resources Management Agency Act of 2017 clearly states purposes for which a water permit should be obtained, and Sea Coach Express has violated the law by not obtaining a permit. Regulation 27 (2) of the Water Use and Catchment Protection Regulations 2022 gives the Agency the power to seal off operations of businesses that neglect and/or fail to comply with the Agency’s directions regarding compliance.” Director Conteh said.
The team comprising NWRMA, ACC, and SLP officials were met with strong resistance, and some were even physically assaulted in the execution of their duties.
The National Water Resources Management Agency was established in 2017 by an Act of Parliament known as the National Water Resources Management Agency Act no. 5 of 2017 with broad mandates including but not limited to conservation, protection, control, development, and management of the water resources in Sierra Leone. One of the specific objectives through which the Agency achieves its mandates is by levying fees on water users, who gain economic advantage as a result of their uses, for example, sea transport companies, mining companies, water bottling companies that abstract water from natural sources, etc.
In view of the above, the Agency being a regulatory institution has a department responsible for ensuring that water users comply with the law mentioned.
Enforcement is the last stage of the Agency’s Compliance Strategy, which first prescribes information, then encouragement, warning, and enforcement. Since 2019, many companies have understood the need to regularize their operations, but a few, like Sea Coach Express, remain neglectful.
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