LIBERIA: Secret Cross-Border Logging Uncovered

Several local government officials in the provincial district of Kongba in Gbarpolu County have been reportedly linked to illegal cross-border logging activity with neighboring Sierra Leone.

Recently, the Town Chief of Jawajeh Chiefdom in Gbarpolu County wrote the county administration, complaining about the smuggling of logs by Sierra Leoneans with the backing of local government officials.

In the document sent to the County Superintendent Allen Gbowee, Chief Augustine Lamin Dorkpay said these local government officials started their illegal cross-border logs sale in the early part of January 2013.

According to the document, as a result of the illegal action of the local government officials, the town chief mobilized youths and elders of the district to regularly patrol the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone, to ensure that no one crosses with Liberian logs.

The letter said, during one of the patrol operations, they were able to arrest one power-saw from some Sierra Leoneans who were cutting down logs in the district without authorization from the county leadership.

The communication also disclosed that during the investigation of the Sierra Leoneans, they admitted that they were permitted by some officials of the district.

In the document, Mr. Dorkpay also disclosed that prior to the deployment of his patrol men, logs already cut down were smuggled out of Liberia by another group of Sierra Leoneans with the backing of the local government officials.

When the accused local government officials were contacted on the matter, they declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the county administration is planning to send an investigative team to the district to probe the incident this weekend.

The Gbarpolu County Assistant Superintendent for Development, Yassah Fallah, told LINA that the investigative team will comprise of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), the Liberia National Police (LNP), Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the office of the County Superintendent.

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