Margibi Residents Decry East China International ‘Hazardous’ Rock Quarry Operations
MARGIBI- As the implementation of environmental safety remains a major challenge for Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency, normal working activities came to a standstill at the rock blasting site of the East China International Construction Company when hundreds of residents of Ben Town in Marshall, Lower Margibi County stormed the site in protest.
Early Tuesday morning, the residents, carrying placards said the company is destroying their properties and endangering their lives, and as a result it should leave.
“Relocate the blasting site, our future is at stake. No more blasting,’’ they chanted.
The protesters, through their spokesperson, Nancy Kortee said over a year now, East International Construction Company has been using heavy and harmful equipment in their community to quarry rocks.
Madam Kortee said they have written several complaints to the EPA, and the Margibi County Authorities but noting has been done to stop the company from operating.
“East China International Company machines are cracking our houses we struggled over the years to build due to the heavy sound from the regular dynamite blasting and the government is doing nothing. This is why we have assembled here today,” she said.
“Our homes are breaking down due to the vibration. Some of us are pressure (hypotension) patients and cannot stand this.”
The Company in January of this year defied a stop order from the EPA after it was accused by the host community of gross violation of their rights.
After hours of sustained protestation by the aggrieved residents of Ben Town, the Commissioner of Schieffelin Township Anthony Brown arrived.
Commissioner Brown lauded the citizens for the peaceful gathering and appeal to them to work with his office and the County authorities to find possible solutions to the problem.
Meanwhile, the company agreed to halt all of its quarrying activities until Friday, May 26 when a joint meeting will be held to discuss ways forward that will satisfy the plights of the citizens.
After the protest, the Environmental Protection Agency held a brief meeting with the aggrieved residents. Thereafter, the EPA set Wednesday, May 26 to start their assessment tour and assured the residents that they will work out all modalities to settle the situation.