31 May 2017

Liberia: EPA Consults With Stakeholders

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded a one-day multi stakeholders' consultation on behalf of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) for the proposed cultivation of oil palm on 6.496 hectares situated in Trembo and Barclayville Statutory District, Grand Kru County.

EPA is responsible for the protection of the environment and conservation of biodiversity through the implementation of policy that ensures long term economic prosperity for Liberia.

In accordance with the environmental laws of Liberia, GVL recently applied for a permit to cultivate oil palm on 6.496 hectares in Trembo and Barclayville Statutory District, Grand Kru County.

Following the application process, an environment and social impact assessment study was conducted by Green Consultancy, in keeping with EPA's requirement process.

As part of the process, a team from the EPA headed by its Deputy Executive Director Urias S. Goll travelled to Barclayville, Grand Kru, over the weekend to discuss the environment assessment study report.

The interactive dialogue attracted stakeholders including representatives of pro-democracy groups, line ministries like Forestry Development Agency (FDA), Ministries of Agriculture, Lands, Mines and Energy, Labour and members of communities that would be affected by the oil palm plantation.

In a statement, EPA Deputy Executive Director Goll said the multi stakeholders' dialogue contradicts statements in some quarters that the government is not championing the cause of local people.

Mr. Goll indicated that the meeting, which is intended to discuss the environment and social impact assessment study with local citizens, is also intended to get their views and inputs on the ESIA report prepared for GVL by an independent firm.

"People often say that government is not working in the interest of the people, but today we are here in the interest of the people of Grand Kru, the EPA is not here to tell you what you want to hear, or what you should do, but we are here to allow GVL and their consultant to tell you what they are about to do in your respective districts," Mr. Goll noted.

He called on residents to channel whatever grievances they have with government through a professional manner so that it can be amicably resolved.

Aloysius K. Kotee, EPA's Environmental, and Social Impact Assessment Assistant Manager disclosed that the ESIA department was established to assess projects being undertaken by concessions and other companies so that it does not negatively impact the environment.

Mr. Kotee described the EPA as a twin mother, who is breastfeeding the company with information, and also breast feeding the district with information, but rather, playing the listening role.

According to him, land owners and GVL are the key stakeholders in the consultation.

Mr. Kotee disclosed that the Environmental Law of Liberia was passed into law in 2003 and said the passage of the law gave birth to the EPA, which has the mandate to ensure the environmental law.

"Anything that will be done must be done in compliance with the law and so this is what empowered us to bring all of you here today," he added.

Representatives from Green Consultancy did a presentation on the outcome of their findings.

GVL is an Indonesian company that entered into 65 years concession agreement with the Government of Liberia.

The company's concession covers 220, 000 hectares in five counties including Sinoe, Grand Kru, Rivercess, River Gee and Maryland.

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