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A financial syndicate operated by certain top officials at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy accused of collecting “fees” from beach sand miners for “personal use” has been exposed in a documentary report.
But authorities at that ministry have denied the report, a copy of which is in possession of this paper.
In a video episode, copy of which is in possession of this paper, some residents of Zorgbeh Town community along the Marshall Highway, displayed more than LD$10,000 they seized from Beatrice Goweh, posing as “mine inspector” from LME.
The villagers had surrounded Beatrice in a makeshift hut on the beach to confiscate the money.
Dobli Barclay, a resident who confirmed the authenticity of the scene displayed in the video, said the Lands and Mines Inspector assigned in the area, “collects thousands of Liberian dollars from the beach sand miners on a daily basis.”
“Every day, money is collected; sometimes LD$20,000 or LD$25,000. Everyday, six days a week, and we don’t know the purpose for which such sum is collected.
“We don’t know where the money goes. Our roads are completely damaged. This is affecting every one of us in the community. For five weeks, I have not been able to drive in and out of my residence. I have two four- wheel vehicles but I can’t make it on this road because Lands and Mines takes the money but refuses to fix the road,” Mr. Barclay said.
“The Lands and Mines collects fees from us to fix the road. But they are not doing it. They collect more than LD$20,000 here per week. But we don’t know where that money is going. They need to tell us.
“I will challenge them anywhere if they can look into my eyes and deny that they don’t collect money from us,” said Mr. Alfred J. Goeh, spokesman of the Sand Miners Union in Zorgbeh Town.
Another miner, Mr. Morgan White, said both Beatrice and Emmanuel Payne aka “Pep Cardiola” “collect over LD$10,000 from them daily without any “justification.”
He insisted that Beatrice and Emmanuel Payne aka “Rep Cardiola,” usually come and collect here as inspectors and collect money from us.
The miners also said Inspector General Prince Marbu and Assistant Minister for Mines William Hynes coordinate the fee collections done by Beatrice and her team.
But both officials denied the allegation.
Mines Inspector General Prince Marbu and Assistance Minister William Hynes denied the report terming it as “untrue.”
“I can’t talk to you. I am on my way to Zwedru. That matter is before Assistant Minister Hynes. It is false,” Mr. Marbu said via phone Saturday.
When contacted Monday morning, Mr. Hynes refused to comment on the allegation.
Meanwhile, Zorgbeh Town residents and the beach miners union threatened to sue the Land and Mines Ministry for failure to justify the fees are collected from them.