The Environmental Protection (EPA) on Monday morning shutdown the generators room of the FrontPage Africa newspaper as a result of alleged grave health hazards being posed at the private residences of former Minister of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) in Monrovia.
The EPA’s action came as a result of the Ministry of Justice’s directive to close down the FrontPage Africa’s generator room based on several complaints by former Health Minister Martha Sendolo Belleh about the extensive smoke emanating from the standby generator.
Shedding light on events leading to the shut down, Deputy EPA Executive Director Stephen Y. Neufville pointed out that the FrontPage Africa publisher, Rodney Sieh, had been served many citations to come in and discuss the issues emanating from Madam Sendolo Belleh’s complaints, but to no avail. Mr. Sieh, he said, refused to answer any of the citations.
On top of that, Mr. Neufville explained, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was drafted, edited, finalized and sent to Publisher Sieh for signature as a legal document requiring that he (Sieh) to control the generator’s pollution and subsequent smoke entering the home of the former Minister Martha Sendolo Belleh.
Consequently, Monday’s closure of the FrontPage Africa’s generators’ room was carried out by the EPA’s inspectors with the protection of officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP).
Regrettably, Director Neufville stated, Publisher Sieh rejected the document and did not sign it up to Monday morning, when the Justice Ministry’s directive to close the doors of the newspaper’s generator room was executed.
Deputy Director Neufville also intimated that three official citations were sent to Mr. Sieh to hold discussions with top officials of the EPA regarding the smoke pollution coming from the two generators of the FrontPage Africa in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
“Our intensions as officials of the EPA are to always mitigate problems and challenges faced by citizens and residents regarding disputes relating to sanitation and environmental issues in the country,” Deputy Director Neufville asserted.
Narrating her ordeal to the Daily Observer this week, Madam Belleh explained that in 2006 upon her return from abroad, she discovered that holes had been created through the fence of her two houses to install pipes from the generators of the FrontPage Africa newspaper.
She further intimated that the holes were closed but the generators were not relocated, which resulted in the smoke pollution being directed into her living room.
Besides, Mrs. Belleh explained, as a result of the pollution coming from the two generators being used by the FrontPage Africa newspaper, all of the flower plants in her yard have died.
“At the moment, owing to the intensity of the smoke pollution that goes into my first refurbished house, my grand children are encountering serious health and environmental hazards,” she lamented.
She further disclosed that as a result of the constant flow of the smoke pollution into the house, a potential lease tenant who had come to negotiate and rehabilitate the second house did not return, and she lost a revenue generating opportunity, a much-needed source of income at these critical times in the country.
She further intimated that in February this year, she invited Mr. Sieh to see firsthand the health hazard being caused as a result of smoke pollution from his two generators.
Mr. Sieh and Madam Belleh toured the affected areas and the publisher promised to do something about the health hazards being caused by the smoke pollution from his two generators.
Sadly, she noted, Publisher Sieh did not return and the situation still remains unbearable and unacceptable by all health and environmental standards.
When contacted Monday afternoon for comment, Ms. Joyce Sieh, the neice of Publisher Sieh, acknowledged the existence of the health problems with regard to the smoke pollution from the two generators belonging to the newspaper.
She also explained that initial steps were taken to remedy the situation by extending the two pipes from the generators further up into the air.
She said her uncle was away from the country at this time.
Meanwhile, FrontPage Africa has reacted sharply to the closure of its generator room. In an article published in the newspaper’s Tuesday, September 2 edition, the management threatened to take legal action against Madam Martha Sendolo Belleh, to the tune of US$100 million.