Liberia News: The Act Of Scaring Away Investors (Part 1)

Monrovia-March-5-TNR:My Thought On The Recent Violence In Grand Cape Mount County
By Morrison O.G. Sayon Email: Mobile: (231) 0775107709(WhatsApp)

Despite the nearly 14 years of civil unrest that ravaged every fabric of our society, Liberia remains a blessed country as the nation is undoubtedly endowed with natural resources that continue to draw investors to its doorsteps.
Another important thing that usually attracts investors and by extension brings development to a country is when that country is peaceful where investors are safe to pump in their million or billions. Certainly, investors would always want to invest their money in a peaceful and friendly environment where the government will ensure that the interest of these companies are protected.
On the other hand, companies that do business in Liberia are to employ Liberians and ensure that they benefit from their labour. That is why the government represented by members of the Legislature are clothed with the authority to discuss and conclude these concession agreements to ensure that the company, the workers and the government’s interests are protected under any concession agreement.
I’m raising these issues in reference to the recent violence in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mounty County where it was reported that group of workers led by one of the country’s Representative at the Legislature staged a violent protest that led to the deaths of some individuals and the destruction of properties belonging to some citizens of the county, equipment belonging to the company and other facilities constructed by Bea Mountain for the citizens.
Reports from that county speak of a tragic turn of events, a protest erupted on Thursday, February 29, into violence at the Bea Mountain Mining Company in Grand Cape Mount County, resulting in the loss of two lives and leaving several others wounded.
Tensions flared between officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and aggrieved citizens, highlighting the simmering discontent surrounding mining operations in the region.
The protest, which initially began as a peaceful demonstration by local residents voicing grievances against the operations of the mining company, quickly escalated into a confrontation between protesters and law enforcement personnel. Reports suggest that clashes erupted as police attempted to disperse the crowd, leading to a chaotic and violent exchange.
Amidst the chaos, two reportedly individuals lost their lives, succumbing to injuries sustained during the clashes. Additionally, several others suffered varying degrees of injuries, further exacerbating the already tense situation.
The exact circumstances surrounding the deaths and injuries remain under investigation, with conflicting accounts emerging from both sides. While some witnesses allege excessive use of force by police, authorities maintain that they were compelled to intervene due to the escalating unrest and threats to public safety.
The Bea Mountain Mining Company, a major player in Liberia’s mining sector, despite its numerous developmental initiatives in Grand Cape Mount County, has frequently faced criticism and opposition from some local communities over issues such as land rights, environmental concerns, and economic disparities. This latest incident is not unique to Bea Mountain as it underscores the deep-seated grievances and social tensions prevalent in regions where extractive industries operate.
Report gathered from several individuals in the county revealed that the violence was orchestrated by the newly elected lawmaker of Grand Cape Mount County District #2, Mohammed Dosii who according to report, gave his blessing to the ongoing protest against Bea Mountain Mining Company.
He told residents in Gogoma, Grand Cape Mount County that they were unhappy with the level of bad labor practices at the mines and it was time to protest.
After the meeting, the protestors were secured to embark on their actions. As a result of that, several properties of the company including the newly constructed vocational school building were damaged including earth-moving equipment.
The protestors later set ablaze the home of one Boakai Lansanah Taraferro, a citizen of the county. He contested against Representative Dosii in the just-ended election of 2023.
Information I gathered following the violence says prior to that, Representative Dosii, with a large following, arrived at the site on Thursday, February 29 and had a meeting with citizens in the town, Golgoma camp, Matambo corridor.
The chiefs and elders said they were protesting due to the presence of armed men as well as bad labor practice at the mines. Due to the seriousness of the protest, the police had to fire light bullets and teargas to dispel protestors. After the meeting, a group of protestors went amok in the town setting three of the company’s excavators and other machines ablaze.
If what I’m hearing is truth about the role of Rep. Dosii then I think that he didn’t read or does not understand the Mineral Development Agreement between the Government of Liberia and Bea Mountain because it is clearly stated in that agreement mostly in Section 11.2 (a) of the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) that, “The Company may, directly or by contract with a responsible provider of security services, establish, manage and maintain its own asset and employee security and protection service for the purpose of protecting assets in the Production Area and in the immediate vicinity of other locations at which Company has or maintains property and assets through its own security force and to do so always in accordance with Law and rules and regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Justice relating to security forces. Such security force shall not bear arms and shall at all times operate subject to the authority of, and coordination with the Liberia National Police.”
However, clause (b) of the same section says: “In the event the Company deems it absolutely necessary to have armed guards for the purpose of protecting assets in the Production Area and in the immediate vicinity of other locations at which Company has or maintains property and assets, the Company shall make a written request to the Government. The Government shall provide armed guards as needed, which expense shall be borne by the Company.”
First, let me condemn the violent situation in Grand Mount County that led to the deaths of some of our fellow compatriots and the destruction caused by the violence. I strongly condemn this as no one is to take another person’s life no matter the situation. In the same vein, I also condemn the alleged action of Rep. Dosii and his followers who orchestrated the violence in the county.
It us remember that violence has never been the solution to any of our problems in our nation’s history. Liberians, let us just retrospect and remember what violence has caused this nation over the years. We witnessed the most-talked about Rice Riot in 1979 when Liberians were killed and properties destroyed; we saw the 1980 Coup d’etate which led to the gruesome death of President Wiliam R. Tolbert and other Liberians including the 13 Liberian government officials something that continues to divide our nation. Again, we witnessed the December 26, 1989 evasion of our country when rebel forces led by former President Charles G. Taylor entered the country and we all still know the results of the nearly 14 years of devastation caused because of violence. This is to remind us that violence cannot solve any problem. The best way in solving problems is by gathering around the table to settle matters.
To the role play by the Grand Cape Mounty County lawmaker, let us understand that the Legislature is the HOUSE OF ELDERS, meaning members of that august body are there to serve as twin mothers and that is by ensuring that peace reign in the country whether between the citizens and a concession company or the government and a particular concession company operating in the country.
If as leader of the country, you cannot solve the problem then don’t escalate the situation because if we continue to do these things, undoubtedly investors will definitely leave our country and where are we going to turn in providing employment for the millions of citizens who are destitute as a result of our leaders not being able to attract investors to help the country.
It is a known fact that Bea Mountain’s MDA was lately extended to 25 years by members of the 54th Legislature and some of you leaders from the county couldn’t muster the courage to address those issues confronting the workers though many of you especially those representing the county being in the know especially Rep. Dosii who was then a candidate and had the opportunity to speak on these alleged ills but chose to remain silence on the matter.
For me, this is an eye-servant behavior demonstrated by the newly elected lawmaker by wanting to impress on the citizens when the wrong thing was being done. In all fairness, this is counterproductive to encouraging our development partners who are coming and willing to invest in our country which is logging far behind in terms of development as compare to other nations in the sub-region.
This latest action against Bea Mountain certainly has the propensity to scare and drive away investors from the country and this could no double have an avert effect on the new government of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai who has since promised to develop our nation. It is a known fact that in the absence of investors there can be no development because our government depends on these companies to pay taxes and other fundings that go toward development but if be continue to attack and burn these companies’ properties in the name of protest, then let us know that Liberia will continue to retrogress rather than moving forward. We can’t continue to shoot ourselves in the legs always only because we want to impress on the people who we cannot help because for example, if Bea Mountain leaves or decides to leave, where do we turn? Every concession agreement has its only problems and that is why those agreements are reviewed over the years by succeeding government, something that was lately done by members of the 54th Legislature.
Liberians must by now understand that violence scare away investors and even prevent others from doing business in the country because investors who are bringing in their money want a peaceful and friendly environment to operate. Sincerely, we can’t continue to use violence to solve problems that could be easily handled.
While there are challenges in the agreement with Bea Mountain, I think that if we notice these challenges, we must flag them for amicable solutions and that is by engaging the company to do the right thing. That is why we have lawmakers from those counties with concession companies, they are the leaders and must be able to engage the managements of these companies or national government in resolving those issues rather than encouraging the citizens to protest knowing fully that violence has no good result.
Bea Mountain Mining Corporation, a concession company operating in Liberia is one of the success stories of how concession companies are transforming the war ravaged country in terms of infrastructure development, human resource capacity as well as providing jobs for hundreds of Liberians mostly those in Western Liberia.
A concession agreement signed between the Government of Liberia and Bea Mountain Corporation states among other things that, “Bea Mountain Mining Corporation shall have the right to extend the term of this contract for additional terms not exceeding 25 years each upon providing the Government with notice, at least 1 year prior to the termination of the original term or any extended term, of its intention to seek such extension and, within 90 days after such notice, by providing the Government with a feasibility report which shall set forth the type and quantity of minerals that are estimated to exist in the contract area, or any part thereof, and describe in reasonable detail a proposed plan for the efficient and economic production of such minerals.
Since the signing of this agreement between the Liberian Government and Bea Mountain, the company has been honoring its social responsibility agreement under the concession agreement signed in 2001. Since Bea Mountain began its operations in Western Liberia, the company has elevated the standard of living in Liberia with its many contributions to Grand Cape Mount County where the company is presently operating.
The mineral agreement between the government and Bea Mountain clearly states that Bea Mountain Mining Corporation should pay the government royalty at the percentage rate specified from the sale of minerals from the production area. For gold, silver and diamonds, 3%. For all other minerals, as agreed but cannot exceed 5%. The royalty will be determined on a net smelter return basis for gold, silver, and gross revenue basis for diamonds. The payment should be made within 30 days after the end of the month in which the minerals were shipped….
The mineral agreement further notes that Bea Mountain Mining Corporation should contribute the following into a community development fund; US$100,000 for contract year 1 and 2, US$150,000 for contract years 3 and 4, US$200,000 for contract years 5 to 10 and US$250,000 for contract year 11 until end of the original term. The funds are payable to the government on or before February 1st of each period when the payment is due.

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