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Fast-Tracking Investigation in Western Liberia

The Liberia News Agency or LINA recently reported illegal logging activities in the northwestern region of Liberia by some Sierra Leonean nationals. LINA pointed accusing fingers at a number of local government officials for abetting the illegal logging activities in Kongba District, Gbarpolu County, even though it did not name those involved.

It quoted a town chief of Jawajeh Chiefdom in the district as communicating with the Gbarpolu County Administration on the involvement of the local government officials in illegal log smuggling across the Liberian-Sierra Leonean border by Sierra Leoneans. As the result of the illegal action of the local government officials, which began since January of 2013, a regular patrol of the border line in the district was imitated among youths and elders to ensure that Liberians logs were prevented from smuggling by undesirable actors- an action on the part of the town chief that paid-off well.

Such efforts resulted in the arrest of a number of Sierra Leoneans and a power saw used to cut the logs without reference to the authorities of Gbarpolu County and disclosure that the illegal logging activities were authorized by some local district officials.

While the town chief of Jawajeh in Kongba District, Gbarpolu County must be hailed for his courage, determination and vigilance in stamping his authority and control of the district, he may not still be capacitated at all levels to ensure the full implementation of his task, especially in the absence of a visible national security structure in Kongba District.

With this alarm raised, it is now incumbent on the Government of Liberia, through the necessary security apparatus and agencies concern-if possible the office of the President of Liberia, to move speedily in investigating the situation before it takes another dimension in the area.While it is understandable that the Government of Liberia is ‘over-stretched’, the urgent need for intervention to compliment the efforts of the people of Kongba District in northwestern Liberia must also be practically emphasized.

Regarding such emphasis, the government must also consider the deployment of a contingent of the Joint Security on a permanent basis, with an extended mandate on other border areas with Sierra Leone in Gbarpolu County. With such immediate move, the assurance would be that illegal activities/transactions of all sorts would either be curtailed or minimized, until the proper channels are followed by those interested in logging or mining.

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