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NDMA Visits Poo Go Dong Community at Hamilton, Conducts Vulnerability Risk Assessment on Abandoned Quarry

Hamilton, Freetown, 6th March 2024 – The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) conducted a vulnerability risk assessment at an abandoned quarry in the Poo Go Dong community along Peninsula Road following the wide circulation of a video showing a boulder that rolled down nearby houses under construction on Tuesday the 5th of March 2024. The assessment involved engagement with community stakeholders to gather firsthand information about recent observations and historical events similar to those that occurred on Tuesday.

According to the stakeholders, the quarry had been inactive for several years, and the majority of the area had been sold to citizens for the construction of private homes. Concerns were raised about a hanging boulder at the top of the quarry, prompting fears that it might roll sideways into nearby structures. As a preventive measure, it was decided to push the boulder down vertically into the ditch.

The NDMA assessment team, led by Thomas Lebbie, Director of Disaster Risk Reduction & Preparedness, and Abu Bakarr Bangura, Director of Research Monitoring & Evaluation made the following observations:
➖All stakeholders reported the same story regarding the removal of the hanging boulder.
➖The abandoned quarry may contain loose rocks and unstable slopes, posing risks to nearby communities.
➖Houses have been built on top of, beneath, and alongside the abandoned quarry, with pillars erected in deep pits within the quarry.
➖There was a lack of clear decommissioning procedures for the quarry, and no structural countermeasures were in place to prevent the movement of boulders and sediments.
➖ Construction occurred within the operational area of the quarry when it was active.
➖Residents, properties, and infrastructure within a certain distance are exposed and vulnerable to various hazards, including slope collapse, rockfalls, land subsidence, and sediment flow.
➖ The gradient of the quarry could be triggered by external forces, leading to the rapid release of boulders and potential destruction of nearby structures.

Director Lebbie informed the community that quarrying processes often compromise the strength of rocks, particularly due to mechanization and the use of explosives and crushers during active operations. He emphasized the importance of strict environmental processes for decommissioning quarries to reduce the exposure and vulnerability of nearby communities. He further urged residents to exercise situational awareness and refrain from acquiring land in high-risk areas.

Director Bangura cautioned against all forms of construction and ongoing mining activities within the area, emphasizing that living in the vicinity of the quarry poses significant risks, despite any misconceptions portrayed in media reports.

Furthermore, the NDMA will promptly engage the Sierra Leone Institute of Geoscientists to conduct further geoscience surveys at the site, with the possibility of extending the assignment and presenting a report that will be shared with other sectors for prompt action. The NDMA has been closely collaborating with the SLIG regarding geological hazard reports.

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