Liberia: FDA Impounds Containers of Illegally Harvested Logs
— Institutes court action against perpetrators
The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has launched a vigorous action thereby arresting three trucks carrying four containers containing Ekki logs (Lophira allata) harvested through illegal means in total disregard of the established chain of custody system, which provides legal traceability for timber products.
The three trucks with License Plates Numbers H02298, belonging to Shakia Kamara, H02637, belonging to Layee Kamara, and C4847, belonging to Bangalo Kromah conveyed crosscut logs illegally harvested in Gbarpolu County. Two trucks (H02298 & C4847) are currently at the Regional Office of the FDA in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, along with the two containers they were conveying.
The third truck has two containers and is currently at the Sawmill checkpoint in Gbarpolu County. All the trucks have crossed-cut Ekki Logs. Doada Sessay, a police officer, has claimed the mentioned logs and the FDA Regional Team has identified the source of the logs with photographic evidence of the violations.
The FDA sees the actions of Mr. Sesay and the owners of the truck as a gross violation of the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL), particularly Section 5.1(a), which prohibits commercial use of forest resources without permission from the FDA, which is a violation under NFRL 20.1 that is punishable under NFRL 20.7.
FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen has frowned on this gross illegality and recommended the sternest of action against violators consistent with the forestry sector's laws.
Meanwhile, the FDA has filed a petition before the 11th Judicial Circuit Court (Tubmanburg) relative to the two trucks and containers in Bomi County (Tubmanburg), seeking to (i) confiscate and auction the logs, consistent with the FDA's Confiscation Regulation, (ii) order the trucks and container forfeited consistent with NFRL 20.2, (iii) fine the Respondents US$25,000.00 each and (iv) sentence each to a jail term of 12 months consistent with NFRL 20.7. A similar petition shall be filed with the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Bopolu relative to the truck and containers arrested at Sawmill.
FDA observes that several illegal timber products are clandestinely exported without Chain of Custody documentation. These timber products are acquired from illegal sources and concealed in a sealed container where they are not easily identified at the checkpoints or by the FDA staff assigned at the Freeport of Monrovia.
This, the FDA says, violates NFRL 13 .8, which requires that the export of forest products from Liberia must be accompanied by an export permit issued by the Forestry Development Authority. FDA Checkpoint and Free Port of Monrovia staff members are instructed to open all sealed containers from forested areas to verify content and ensure that the FDA duly issued conveying permit documents.