Gov’t Hooks Abi Jaoudi Again

9
2249
EPA Executive Director, Nathaniel Blama

Barely two weeks after being fined for being in possession of expired food products and potentially endangering the lives of Liberians, the Abi Jaoudi group of companies has again been slapped with yet another fine, this time by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The fine, which is said to be about US$3,000, was imposed in the wake of the company’s refusal to adhere to the EPA’s Stop Order, to halt ongoing  construction activities near the Catholic Hospital Junction.  The EPA charged that the Abi Jaoudi and Azar Trading Company’s construction activities in that vicinity was in violation of the Environmental Protection and Management Law (EPML) part III Section 6 (count 1 &2) of the Republic of Liberia.

EPA Executive Director, Nathaniel T. Blama, Sr., has mandated the Abi Jaoudi and Azar Corporation to pay the fine into Government revenue at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), with an official receipt presented to the EPA within the next 72 hours.

He further instructed the company to halt all activities on the site, until further notice of authorization is presented to the company by the Agency.

Blama further added that failure by the company to comply with Notice of Violation issued March 27,2018, will lead to drastic penalties, which include but are not limited to: additional fines, closure, imprisonment and/or criminal prosecution where applicable.

He also called all companies operating within the country to comply with the Environmental Protection Management Law, in order to avoid future embarrassment.

Meanwhile, an official of the Abi Jaoudi and Azar Trading company, Mr. George Abi Jaoudi, in response to queries from the Daily Observer has said in a text message that he is currently out of the country. However, he referred this newspaper to one Winnie, who is apparently an employee of the company. But Mr. Winnie has not since responded to calls placed by the Daily Observer.

It can be recalled that a roughly two weeks ago, a US$75,000 fine was imposed on the Abi Jaoudi Supermarket, after it was found to be in possession of expired meat and frozen food, as well as other products, on the Liberian market. The Supermarket was accused of violating the General Business Law and Public Health Law of Liberia. Commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh disclosed at a press conference that the business entity admitted to the act.

Tarpeh said the time for chaos and disorder in the country’s commerce and trade industry is over. “The time when business owners would assault government officials for doing their jobs, and then go with impunity is also over,” he said.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Are these fines legitimate, in terms of being spelt out in any agency or government informational document relative to the categories of infraction? Or the EPA and Commerce Ministry just flexing muscles on this company? We are all for this level of vigilance demonstrated by these two entities in safeguarding the health and safety of Liberians in this regard, but for heaven’s sake, a $75,000. Fine? That just seems to be too darn excessive! As serious as these entities want us to take them for doing their jobs, did the Commerce Ministry, for example, investigate beyond Abu Jaoudi, in order to find out if the goods in question expired in the company’s warehouse, on the shelves or were off-loaded at the port in that condition? And if the goods were expired upon off-loading at the port, then what is the consequence to those liable? Bottom line, hopefully this is the mode of operation of the “new Commerce Ministry” under Wilson Tarpeh, and not some petit vendetta.

  2. To me when a building permit is granted to anyone or entity, one would think that the needed requirements have been met. Environmental and other pertinent approvals should be part of the building permitting process before even a dime is paid for the permit. You don’t give the building owner the permit to build and then in the middle of it you slap him in the face with environment requirements, this is counter-productive.

    I understand these agencies are trying to do right by the government and I applaud the efforts, but I think it would make sense these agencies coordinate among themselves. The question that keeps pondering my mind after reading this article, assuming the accuracy, is whether Abi Jaoudi and Azar Trading Company was granted a building permit? If so was environmental concern part of the permit requirements, and if not is the government plan on making this part of the permitting process? If in fact this is part of the permitting process then why/how did Abi Jaoudi get the permit in the first place?

    Why it is true that securing building permit ensures minimum building standard & code requirements, it’s also cost prohibitive and ensures maximum return on investment to the owner. A potential building owner who is granted piecemeal building permit is likely to encounter loss of income if completion date is moved up due to some permitting issues which could have been avoided before construction starts. Every single delay in construction equates to higher construction cost and loss of potential income from rental that would have been realized. It is therefore important that government make sure that any delay, once construction starts, should be the fault of the owner by means of inspections. So, it makes sense then that building permit process should take into account all the necessary codes, standards, and perhaps EPA requirements before construction begin.

    • Even better and more informed analysis of this obvious crowd-pleasing antics of these agencies in this case. Thanks.

    • John, could it be the case of, “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing?” or the the whole system needs to be carefully reviewed/revisited and corrected, if need be?

  3. Giving the numerous agencies and ministries comprising the Liberian Government, the unilateral imposition of fines on businesses without due legal process is worrisome and contradicting to the pronouncement that Liberia is open for Business. Business entities found in violation of any codes or laws should be referred to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.

  4. Is there any doubt that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing? The government is flexing and looking for funding for its many new projects. Go to the deep pockets and milk them dry. Be careful new regime that you don’t run off some of the best money makers you have… you rely on them for the tax money they bring in.

  5. EPA and Ministry of commerce are not flexing muscles at the Abijoudi trading instead discriplining the institution for constantly violating the laws of Liberia. Abijoudi being one of the institutions that connived clandestinely with former government officials to siphone government of needed revenues in the manner of transacting business is not afraid to unscrupulously and dubiously engaged in unwholesome acts. That is a very long story but this pro-poor government will certainly strengthen them.

  6. John you need to be informed with issues before making false accusations about government agencies not coordinating, first of all you must understanding that construction of search nature spans across three steps, the acquision of Zooning permit, next to Environmental permit than finally to Construction permit, that is how the process is like. So go back to the drawing board and enquired if this procedure was ever followed. Just so you know, Abijourly is very much aware of this procedure, after several times a halt order was issued by both EPA and Ministry of Public Works.

    • Bro. Jallah – you just made my point. If you are telling me that the sequence mentioned is what being followed for actual construction to begin, then how did Abi Jaoudi get construction permit which is the final step as you stated? Doesn’t it make sense that before the final permit, which is a construction permit, is issue the owner would have already had clearance for the previous two (zooning & EPA)? That being the case wouldn’t you agree that there was a breakdown in communication among the three agencies?

      My point is why would Abi Jaoudi be issued a construction permit when the entity has not met the zooning & EPA requirements if these three agencies were coordinating or working hand-in-hand? I am assuming all construction permits are issued by Public Works (PW), and I stand corrected, but what I don’t understand is how can PW issue a permit and then issue a “halt order” on construction for perhaps incomplete permitting process?

      Please note that my critiques are meant to help those in authority to be more vigilant, efficient and effective. I am not asking these questions or comments just to be a wise guy. In fact I like the stance the government is taking in terms of enforcing the law, but at the same time you want it done with seriousness and logical without fearing potential investor away.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here