By Abu Bakarr Sulaiman Tarawally
Occasional rafts of Sargassum seaweed appear again at the Aberdeen coastline and continue to wash up. For the fifth year running, the seaweed like a tradition, occupies the beach surface and Tourists authority used a tractor to clean the beach. More has washed up, but nowhere near the huge quantities that had done before.
Last night there were still smaller rafts at sea. Sierra Leoneans have a strong long time fun of visiting this side of the coast and the perceptions are varied with some fearing that the sprawling white sand at the beach would be infected in no time. Some enjoy the fun of seeing a somewhat strange weed occupying the beach surface.
A few years, ago many had alleged that sea dredging activities carried out by the African Minerals mining company along the Rokel River might be the cause. Some also had postulated that it might be some kind of chemically weaponized tirades in the sea and possibly could be done by pirates. The flurry of inconsistent suggestions made waves.
Sierra Leonean scientist, Foday Melvin Kamara who is the Managing Director of FINIC has been educating the general public about the many uses of Sargassum seaweed, in an effort to change the negative connotations associated with the product.
“A lot of people are uncomfortable with the Sargassum seaweed because of the smell, but that’s basically because you are on the beach and there is moisture… the Sargassum seaweed is starting to decompose. The decomposition comes with a pungent scent,” Mr. Kamara explains in an interview broadcast at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation radio SLBC.
Mr. Kamara said the seaweed is a great asset to farms and gardens as it could serve both as mulch, because of its water retention capabilities, and also as a pest control agent due to its high salt concentration. The Sargassum seaweed, he explains could be used to generate bio-fuel, generates electricity and the bi-product could be compressed into briquettes of bio char for domestic purposes. The product, he also stated, would be transformed into animal feeds.
He added that by adding the seaweed to the soil, farmers will “get a robust growth”.
Mohammad El Makkaoui, Manager of the Family Kingdom resort at Aberdeen, said the seaweed was an eyesore but however, it has economic befits according to a research he had conducted as investment could be made to recycle the seaweed into organic fertilizer, biomass fuel and could be used to generate electricity for the beach.
El Makkaoui said the hoteliers would benefit from this idea because the project will ensure that their business environment is cleaned up because consequent to the daily demand of product. It would also serve as a source of employment for the bunch of idle folks clutching alcohol and drugs and parading as beach boys in the area.