LIBERIA: Court Cites Illegal ‘Swamp Dwellers’
The Paynesville Magistral Court has cited several people, institutions and businesses to appear before Stipendiary Magistrate, William G. Saygah on Friday, 16 April for illegally erecting structures in the Mesurado Wetlands in violation of the Environmental Protection and Management Law (EPML) of Liberia.
Some of the businesses, individuals and institutions cited are Zeo Wood Workshop, Samuel David, USA Auto and Travel, Konah Lewis, Bishop Alfred Grear, Tetee Gartar and a Block Factory adjacent Kailondo Gas Station along the SKD Boulevard in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
They are to appeared in the Chambers of the Stipendiary Magistrate to respond to a petition filed with the court by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA through its Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh complained that the businesses, individuals and institutions were violating the Act that created the Agency by building in the wetland.
The group, according to a release from the EPA is in violation of Section 75 Count 2 of the Act that established the Agency.
The EPA is the principal authority in Liberia for the management of the environment and the sustainable use of the natural resources.
The Agency is empowered under section 75 of the EPML to prescribe measures for protection of wetlands, the release concluded.
On February 25, 2021, the Government of Liberia through the EPA asked individuals, firms and residents currently undertaking projects within and along the wetland around the Police Academy to remove all existing structures within 30 days or face demolition by the government.
The EPA said it would also impose administrative and regulatory sanctions against individuals, firms and residents currently undertaking projects within and along the wetland around the Police Academy Junction area in Paynesville City.
The warning is contained in a ‘halt order and citation’ released by the EPA.
EPA Executive Director, Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh said the decision was necessary because unsustainable and unauthorize backfilling of the wetland; blocking of waterways; discharge of wastewater and sewages into the wetland and water courses around the Police Academy Junction along the SKD Boulevard are compromising the ecological integrity of the Mesurado Wetlands.
The Mesurado Wetlands around the Police Academy Junction along the SKD Boulevard is designated as a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands of international importance of which Liberia is a signatory.
Prof. Tarpeh said the unapproved erecting of structures contrary to the zoning regulation and environmental law of Liberia within the wetland, the continuous degradation of the mangrove ecosystem and the illegal dumping of garbage into the wetland are also compromising the integrity of the Mesurado Wetland.
According to him, there is a prohibition under both international and national laws of Liberia to encroach upon wetlands and destruction of mangroves and other protected species necessary for the conservation of biological diversity.
Despite plentiful evidences of violation of the EPML, the EPA sought a court warrant to demolish structures erected in the wetlands.
Stipendiary Magistrate Saygah has warned that failure of the institutions, businesses and individuals to appear before him to provide reasons why they have built structures on the wetlands will leave the court with no other alternative, but to have their structures demolish without notice.