‘East International’ Vows to Restore Marshall Wetlands…Apologizes to EPA

BY: Oretha Bundoo

Liberia-January 18, 2023: A Chinese firm reconstructing the Roberts International Highway Road, East International Group, has recently acknowledged violating the Environmental Protection and Management Law (EPML) of Liberia over the destruction of the Marshall Wetlands in Margibi County.

The company has however vowed to restore the wetland it degraded by building a 2.0 km access road in the wetland.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shutdown Fengshou International, a rock quarry owned and operated by East International and Sino Liberia for illegally backfilling a portion of the Marshall Wetland in violation of the EPML and operational licenses issued to them by the EPA.

Marshall is one of Liberia’s wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty signed and reached in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran to protect wetlands across the country.

But during a site visit, surprisingly East International was seen disobeying the EPA halt order.

During a meeting with the company’s CEO, Cao Yunfeug, he admitted to the violation and apologized to the EPA for the company’s defiant stance.

In a letter of apology dated 11 January 2023, Mr. Cao said “we sincerely apologize for whatever violation we have done against the rules and regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency Laws of the Republic of Liberia.

He also guaranteed that the company will adhere to all environmental laws. “In this regard, East International Group, Inc. does hereby commit to the Government of Liberia through the Environmental Protection Agency that there will be a full and total restoration of the wetlands in line with the Ramsar Conventions following the completion of the Road Construction Project,” Mr. Cao said.

However, the EPA has placed a US$150,000.00 fine on the company while lifting temporary halt order.

The decision to lift the halt order follows a meeting with the Ministry of Public Works on the critical nature of the RIA project. Meanwhile EPA also requested the Chinese companies to create an operational activities plan in addition to exiting environmental rule.

Illegal backfilling backfilling is contrary to section 75 of the environmental protection management law.

However, East International CEO Mr. Cao had agreed to provide a comprehensive report within two weeks on how the company will restore the degraded wetlands.

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