MONROVIA-Nimba County senior senator, Prince Y. Johnson said that the world’s leading steel giant will feel what he calls ‘heat’ if it does not go by the Mineral Development Agreement-MDA signed with the Liberian government.
Speaking to this paper in an exclusive interview over the weekend, he said, AML has not been able to live by previous agreement and even up to now, they are doing nothing to correct same.
“Arcelor Mittal is not doing anything there. The environment is bad, they are living in containers, and the houses left there by LAMCO have not been refurbished. Only few they are have repaired; they are only interested in taking our ore. But they will feel the ‘heat’, if they do not go by the agreement,” he said.
He said, for instance, payment of social development funds they are not doing well, the amount is small, scholarships not effective, the scholarship committee is in Monrovia, only people from other counties are dominating; the environment is not taken care of and other things.
According to him, president Weah witnessed the signing of the agreement recently, but they from Nimba will get back to president Weah to inform him about what AML is doing.
“We will meet with president Weah and explain to him what is going on there. We have sent a team of journalists there (Yekepa and its environs) to take photos and do documentaries so that we can do power point presentation in the senate when we are discussing the MDA. If president Weah does not act, Mittal Steel will feel it.”
He said, they will not carry out any violent means, but civil.
“We will not go sit on any railway before our children in police go spray us with teargas. We are wise. But when some Indians are with us, in our discussions, they will come to understand.”
“We do not want to do what happened in Nigeria, in the Ogoni land. But if Mittal Steel pushes us against the wall by not going by the agreement, we may go by what happen in Nigeria. We do not want for Nimba to be like Bomi hill, where it is now seen as Bomi hole. They took all the minerals from there and left holes all over the place.”
“Many of the people they awarded the scholarships to recently, are not from Nimba or Bassa. But they put their girlfriends and relatives on it. If AML wants to work here, they should go by the agreement. But they are not going by it at all.”
“We will not fire gunshot at all. This is not time for gun shot. This is time for civil and peaceful protest that will draw the attention of the world about their operations.”
Since the operation of AML, in 2005, there has been a number of concerns from citizens in Nimba about AML not going by the agreement. At some point in the past, citizens from Nimba protested and set ablaze their locomotive and destroyed some properties.
In a related development, AML in a statement last week, said, it is concerned about the decision by the Ministry of Labor concerning payment to former contractors.
ArcelorMittal Liberia (“AML”, “the Company”) is aware of the recent ruling by the Ministry of Labor in Liberia in relation to an ongoing dispute with a group calling itself “Aggrieved Former Contractors” (“Aggrieved Contractors”). The dispute involves claims to entitlements going back in some cases more than ten (10) years.
The Company would like to clarify several critical points: In September 2020, the Company settled a dispute with former redundant AML workers in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the workers and the Government of Liberia (“GoL”); An important part of that agreement, which was fully supported by the Government of Liberia, was that it explicitly excluded contractors, temporary and casual workers from having any legitimate claim.
Despite the ‘’Aggrieved Former Contractors’’ being unable to provide any evidence to support their claim of direct employment by AML for a period of 3.5 years that would entitle them to conversion to a permanent employee, AML agreed to make a contribution to an industry fund for the benefit of former contractors as a means of social support.
AML remains committed to being a responsible corporate citizen. The Company also calls for adherence to Government of Liberia’s statement of zero tolerance of disruption to rail operations for any reason.
AML was not immediately available for comment.