By Bampia Bundu
Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone has briefed some 40 pupils and eight Principals from seven secondary schools in the Bombali and Tonkolili Districts on their operations.
The programme was meant to give them a thorough knowledge about the operations of the project in order to enable them to discern between false propaganda and the reality on the ground, said the company’s Social Affairs Manager, Ms. Aminata Kamara.
She explained that they were currently in the process of developing a green field renewable energy and agricultural project in Makeni.
Ms. Kamara further said that following earlier misconceptions about the project, especially those having to do with the leasing of land from community people, they have now thought it prudent to extend their engagement beyond the media by also involving educational institutions and community people in the implementation of their projects.
She recalled that on May 24 this year, the bio energy project was adopted by 20 student union government executives from four educational institutions in Makeni with the aim of increasing their knowledge base on the operations of Addax.
She said in furtherance of this objective the students from the University of Makeni (UNIMAK), Northern Polytechnic, College of Management and Administration (COMA), and the Sierra Leone Opportunities Industrial Centre (SLOIC) embarked on a day-long visit to Addax’s operational sites, where they were briefed on the company’s operations, plans, challenges, job opportunities and the graduate advancement programme.
As a follow-up to that engagement, Ms. Kamara said they considered engaging secondary school Principals and their pupils, who they intended to use as ambassadors to educate their peers about the activities of the project and the benefits it will bring to them and the nation as a whole.
She said pupils from the St. Francis Secondary School, Benevolent Islamic Secondary School (SLMB), Alison Secondary School, Government Secondary School for Boys, Magburaka, Government Secondary School for Girls (Mathora), and Modern School of Science and Business Studies, were ferried to the village of Kontobie in the Malal Mara Chiefdom, Tonkolili District, where they were briefed on the various activities of the company.
Ms. Kamara also informed the pupils that the Makeni project was a combination of both ethanol and the generation of electricity power, noting that apart from the ethanol to be produced, the company would also be generating 30 megawatts of electricity that would be sold to the national grid.
She revealed that they have a plantation size of 10, 000 hectares, both irrigated and mechanized, and that the project would employ about 2000 workers when it shall have gone into full operations.
She further disclosed that the cost of operations of the project was two hundred and fifty eight million dollars (US$258, 000,000.00).
“Addax does not go about grabbing people’s land because we negotiate and lease the land where we operate,” said Madam Kamara, apparently reacting to a question posed by one of the pupils about allegations that the project was forcefully taking community people’s land from them.
The pupils and the school authorities also visited a new settlement being established by Addax in the village of Robon Mabasa, where the company is currently constructing 200 staff quarters in an area named Rokel Estate.