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Tarpeh Succumbs To Yarkpawolo …Amidst Tenure Controversy At EPA

By Grace Q. Bryant
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) former boss, Wilson Tarpeh, has bowed to Urey Yarkpawolo.
Yarkpawolo was appointed to Act as Executive Director replacing Tarpeh who himself was acting since the recall of Nathaniel Blama at that entity.
Following months of controversy at the EPA since the inception of the Unity Party-led government, Tarpeh had been one of the few officials of government who refused to hand over power despite their boss’ mandate.
In January, some workers of the EPA agitated for his resignation, but Tarpeh resisted on grounds that he was serving a tenure position, a situation that led the Administrative Manager of the entity, Joseph Doles, to file a complaint in court for “felonious restraint” against the workers.
According to reports, the writ issued on Tuesday, January 23, by the Monrovia City Court, said the staffers prevented the EPA boss from accessing the compound of the institution.
Doles complained that the workers intent was to expose the institution’s Executive Director to a condition of involuntary servitude.
After the release of the employees from the Monrovia City Court, Tarpeh dismissed his Chief Technical Advisor (CTA), Benjamin S. Karmorh, over what he termed as criminal misconduct but the accused vehemently denied the allegations, labeling his dismissal as baseless and unfounded.
The EPA issued a press release on January 25, 2024, accusing Mr. Karmorh of leading a group that disrupted normal operations and orchestrated an unauthorized takeover of power at the Agency on January 23, 2024.
The release asserted that Mr. Karmorh, along with two suspended employees and other individuals, falsely claimed he was the new head, challenging the legitimacy of Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh’s term as head of the EPA.
But Mr. Karmorh claimed that his dismissal, along with attempts to silence other EPA staff, was a calculated move to suppress professionals and technocrats who scrutinize the agency’s operations.
He declared his intention to pursue legal action, emphasizing a violation of the EPA Act and called Prof. Tarpeh’s actions a witch hunt.
Mr. Karmorh cited Executive Order 123, issued by former President George M. Weah, to argue that non-tenured presidential appointees should be presumed to have resigned as of the inauguration date.
He contended that the order applied to the EPA, urging the government to appoint an Acting Executive Director to restore calm and order within the agency and further accused Prof. Tarpeh of being desperate to maintain his position at the EPA, highlighting a lack of legal authority to dismiss him as Chief Technical Advisor.
The EPA clarified that Karmorh’s reliance on Executive Order 123 was misplaced, emphasizing that the order applies to non-tenured entities and does not extend to tenured agencies like the EPA.
The agency defended its decision to dismiss Mr. Karmorh, citing the serious nature of his impersonation and the disruption of normal activities, which exposed the EPA to public ridicule.
The employees contended that Tarpeh was acting as he was not sanctioned by the institution’s National Policy Council as required by law.
The institution’s National Policy Council, as cited in count 16 of the Act that created the EPA grants the Executive Director a tenure position, provided he/she meets the fundamental requirement if recommended by the Board to the Presidents.
Count 16 of the Act says. ‘The President shall appoint an Executive Director who has a vast knowledge on environmental issues,” but the agitating employees explained that this was not the case with Prof. Tarpeh as he lacks every knowledge on environmental issues.
The Act further states that “The president shall appoint the Executive Director from a short list of three, following the vetting by the Board of Directors for appointments.”
While the National Policy Council, which should serve as the backbone of the institution for appointments of EDs, is yet to be established, Prof. Tarpeh cannot benefit from the right to a tenure.
Moreso, former President George Weah, prior to leaving office, issued an Executive Order 123, and Section 9 of the Order states that non-tenure appointees shall be presumed resigned as of the date of the inauguration on January 22, 2024.
In resistant, Tarpeh termed their actions as being criminal, diabolical, and illegal towards his office and the institution, and maintained that his position at the EPA is a seven-year tenure position that is expected to end on October 1, 2027.
He then dismissed allegations levied against him by the staffers, and said that their quest is intended to destroy the image of the institution.
According to him, the Executive Order issued by Weah in no way refers or includes his office, as it is a tenure office, saying that a tenure of an EPA Executive Director is for a seven-year period.
But in a well-attended welcome ceremony of Acting Executive Director Yarkpawolo at the EPA, many employees jubilated when he vowed to reshuffle employees of the entity based on qualifications, to ensure that they are properly placed according to their credentials.
Acting Director Yarkpawolo made the disclosure yesterday, February 19, disclosing, “Part of this is to ensure that people are properly placed based on qualifications. We will conduct a rigorous employee appraisal to identify key strengths and weaknesses.”
According to him, the EPA is a regulator arm of government, and therefore, it should be an integrity institution.
“This means that people who work here should have a very high level of integrity. We will therefore employ mechanisms that will ensure a high level of work ethics, including coming to work on time, leaving from work on time, and tracking employees’ work activities to ensure proper accountability,” he stressed, adding that his administration will ensure that all employees have their just and rightful benefits (including salaries that commensurate with qualifications and nature of work), as mandated by the labor law of Liberia and other statutory laws.
He maintained that to ensure the full implementation of the Act creating the EPA, they will recommend to the President to constitute the National Environmental Policy Council and the EPA Board of directors, saying, “We will also ensure decentralization of the EPA, both at the county and district levels.”
Yarkpawolo told his staff that the purpose of establishing the EPA is to be the principal authority in Liberia responsible for the management of the environment, including coordinating, monitoring, supervising, and consulting with relevant stakeholders on all activities that have to do with protection of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources.
“The goal is to manage the resources of Liberia in a way that can benefit the current generation and future generations. To this end, we are committed,” he noted.
He said, “We will increase the revenues of the EPA by closing loopholes and enforcing the ESIA guidelines, as well as other revenue generation capacities. The goal will be to make the EPA self-sufficient financially.”
However, the EPA acting Director revealed that they will ensure open communication at the EPA, where there will be suggestion boxes labeled innovation and labeled grievance.
He also vowed to conduct audits on the past administration, adding that regular auditing is a good organization practice, “We will ensure that this is done.”
Meanwhile, the EPA acting boss has declared his assets, in keeping with the code of conduct for public officials.
The code of conduct mandates all public officials to declare their assets upon taking office. The declaration took place yesterday, February 19, at the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission in Monrovia.
Director Yarkpawolo has five houses in Liberia and one house in the USA, with other properties valued at US$636,600 (total assets), while his annual income is US$157,187 from all sources, including salaries, rental services, etc.
According to his asset declaration reports, the EPA boss’s total liability, which is mostly in mortgage, is US$349,355, while his is net worth, which, according to the LACC, is assets minus liabilities, is US$636,600, US$349,355, which is US$287,245.
Director Yarkpawolo was born in Gomue, a small village near the Guinea border in District Number 4, Bong County.
Much was not heard about Yarkpawolo not until he served as the Vice Standard Bearer of the Liberia People’s Party and ran alongside Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe in the just ended presidential elections.

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