Probably overwhelmed with complains of illegal mining operations in many mineral-rich areas in the country, the Government of Liberia has taken a bold step that could bring an end to the factor said to be having low impact on economic growth.
Making the announcement Thursday that government now has in place a special taskforce to police the mining sector at a press briefing, Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon described unlawful venturing in the sector as “criminal acts that amount to theft of property, economic sabotage, and a total violation of the laws of Liberia.
He said the decision to have this body stemmed from observations by the Ministry of Justice that there are people engaged in illegal mining of the country’s natural resources, felling high-quality trees for unlawful export at the detriment of the State.
The taskforce will be governed by a cross-section of actors, including the Ministries of Justice and Mines and Energy, as chair and co-chair, and will be duly provided law-enforcement support by the Liberia National Police (LNP) and Liberia Immigration Service (LIS).
This means that all county attorneys, police detachment commanders, and senior staff of the Forestry Development Authority will equally be involved in saving Liberia’s mining sector and forests believed by most citizens as being very rich but poverty remains evident in the West African state, according to Fahngon.
“The Special Taskforce has been directed to proceed to illegal mining and logging sites to arrest violators and seize all properties there to be used for prosecution purposes. All persons are admonished to cooperate with the taskforce,” he added.
Locals in many counties over the years have reported illicit mining activities that they claim are of no real benefit to them and future generations.
They fear that the natural resources in their communities could be depleted without positively impacting human and infrastructural development.
These residents have repeatedly called for decisive and robust inspection exercises by the government to curb these unscrupulous activities in some of the remotest illegal mines and turn the tide in the interest of the government and its people.