By: Aminata S. Kromah
Marshall,Margibi-January 13, 2023: Despite a halt order issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), East International, a construction company operating in Liberia, is reportedly damaging the Marshall wetlands by backfilling with its huge pile of red dirt in its operation area. The company site is located inside Marshall area, Margibi County near one of Liberia’s huge wetlands.
The discovery was made at the weekend during a tour with Journalists by the EPA to ensure the halt order was in place. During the tour, our reporter indicated that there were three East Int’l trucks full with red dirt and dumping in the prohibited wetlands area. It is said to be producing rocks and mud dirt for the construction of the Roberts international Airport road.
Prior to the ‘Halt Order’, a rock crusher named Fengshou International, which belongs to East International, had requested a permit from the EPA to construct a 2.0-kilometer road in the Marshall wetland in Schiefflin Town, Margibi County, for its machinery. A request, the EPA claimed, was denied with a warning to desist from the project due to the danger it poses to the Marshall wetlands.
Section 56 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law states that any violation for which no other penalty is specifically provided is punishable or fined by a general penalty of not more than US$50,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than ten years upon conviction.
EPA Head of Media and Corporate Communications Denise Love Dennis-Dodoo expressed dismay over the company’s continuous violation of EPA order and compliance,noting that the law will take its course against the company. “EAST International has actually been in defiance, and they are still in defiance of the government’s regulations, so at this point, we will have to actually call a conference again and see what the next step that will be taken. We are not against development at the EPA but companies/institutions should build climate smart roads and not to destroy the wetlands, indeed we have the needed technology to do that”, she noted.
It remains unclear as to why EAST INTERNATIONAL is paying no heed to the EPA’s ‘halt order’. Authorities of the company are tight lipped on the matter till press time.
The Marshall Wetland is one of Liberia’s wetlands which has international importance under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the protection of wetlands.
Liberia signed the convention in 1971 in the Iranian City of Ramsar which is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Thousands of species and plants and animals live in wetlands. It serves as the Protection against flood, improved water quality and natural production. Wetlands are also among the most productive habitats on earth, which provides important animals like fish and shellfish.
If wetlands are drain, whether for farming, construction, or other commercial uses, it damages water filtration and storage systems that ensure clean water supplies for both present and future generations.
Liberia has been recognized as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots which host over 40% of the Upper Guinean Forest, which is very rich in unique fauna and flora. But the country’s natural resources continue to face threats from mankind activities which includes deforestation for charcoal production, commercial logging, small-scale chainsaw operations, mining, and encroachment of wetlands by farming, dumping of waste, and construction activities.