Round-the-clock sand-mining on beaches within a few kilometres of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown is having a devastating effect on the coastline, destroying property, and damaging the area’s hopes of a tourism revival. Kolleh Bangura, the director of Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is concerned about the rate of sand-removal from the beaches. “It is getting worse,” he told IRIN, explaining that until sand-mining began the rate of coastal erosion was around one metre per year. “Now it is up to six metres [in certain places].”
“When they take sand from one part of the beach it upsets the balance, and triggers a direct hit on the coast,” he said.
In the village of Lakka whole stretches of coastline are littered with the remains of buildings whose foundations have been washed from underneath them as a result of sand-mining. Many coastal residents can only watch as the coastline draws ever-nearer to their homes.