Top: Some of a 26-kilogram consignment of ammonium nitrate spilled into a private yard in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County last month. Photo Credit: Philip Zodua
By Varney Kamara
MONROVIA – An explosive-manufacturing company, which supplies Bea Mountain in Liberia, smuggled arms and explosives to Libya in 2018, an investigation by The DayLight has revealed.
In September 2018, the UN Panel of Experts’ report found KAPEKS violated an arms embargo on the northern African nation. The weapons were seized on board the El Mukhtar vessel in the southern and central Mediterranean during a special security operation carried out by the European Union (EU) military, the UN said at the time.
During the operation, the EU troops discovered and seized boxes labeled “KAPEKs.” It is one of several Turkish companies that exploited Libya’s weak law enforcement, resulting in widespread criminal networks, sexual abuse, and impunity, the panel added.
“The Panel has received footage of LNA specialized units defusing [improvised explosive devices (IEDs)] in Benghazi featuring large boxes containing detonating cords manufactured by an explosive manufacturer based in Turkey and surrounding areas,” the report found.
“Part of that footage shows the seizure in early 2017 of large boxes wrapped with multiple layers of plastic foil on board a vessel sailing from Misrata. The boxes seized contained explosives including detonating cords and featured stickers of the manufacturing company,” it added.
The UN placed the embargo on the import and transfer of weapons to Libya as part of the Security Council Resolution 1973. The panel had identified arms smuggling as one of the multiple factors that fueled the war in Libya, threatening the country’s peace, security, and stability. The panel further raised concern that such illicit maneuverings increased attacks against state institutions and installations. It uncovered that the embargo had been largely ineffective, leading to human rights violations against civilians, migrants, and asylum-seekers.
Unlike Libya, ammonium nitrate explosives supplied by KAPEKS are being used for industrial purposes in Liberia.
However, the Turkish firm has appeared in the news twice in the last two years in relation to its supply of ammonium nitrates to Bea Mountain in Liberia.
The first was an illegal shipment of 4,000 metric tons of the explosive chemical in 2020 via the Port of Buchanan. That importation breached the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements for the shipment of chemical substances. The law prescribes a 20-year prison term, a fine of US$50,000 for a violator, or both. It is not clear whether a fine was paid for that violation.
Then a truck transporting 26 metric tons of the chemical compound crashed in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County on its way from Buchanan to Bea Mountain’s Liberty Goldmine in Kinjor. The ill-fated consignment was part of 5,000 metric tons of the chemical, whose shipment had met all legal requirements, according to official documents. EPA’s Executive Director Wilson Tarpeh said “the incidence is unlikely to cause any adverse environmental or health risk” to residents.
KAPEKS did not respond to The DayLight’s queries into this matter up to press time.
KAPEKs, established in 2007 by a group of Turkish engineers, is an explosives enterprise headquartered in Ankara, Turkey. The company has some of its businesses scattered across different African countries, including Libya. It is the main supplier of ammonium nitrate to Bea Mountain, also a Turkish firm. Bea Mountain has a 25-year mineral development agreement with the government of Liberia for the extraction of gold in the Garwula and Gola Konneh districts of Cape Mount.