Mittal  steel ‘Hooked’ Again

Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel producer is in another problem again with locals, but mainly elders and members of the Poro society(a traditional society which  serves as  a learning center  and settlement of disputes among  citizens).
But this time, it not on settlement of   dispute,  rather, it is after  compliance of the  Mineral Development Agreement(MDA)  of  Arcelor Mittal Liberia.
Over the weekend, dozens of traditional  Poro society heads, mostly referred to as ‘Devil’ blocked some of the key roads  leading  to the mines: Torkadi and  Mogangra. That means, no truck can carry any ore from the mines to be loaded on  trains for shipment.
They are demanding for a compliance of the MDA.  According to them,  AML has failed to live up to the first agreements and are now entering into  another agreements with the government.
Some of the demands are; the employment of their citizens  who are qualify, construction of hospital, provision of good housing facilities to employees, removal of all employees from  containers among  others.
This was disclosed by a lawmaker from Nimba County, Honorable. Joseph Nyan Somwarbi,  of district number three, Nimba county, where AML   AML mines are located. He has gone to the  county to help resolve the situation.
“It is true that the Zoes and traditional people are making demands to the company. They have  told us their demands; and we are  trying to talk with them. The minister of Internal Affairs is not in the country, but his representatives and  us are working to ensure that this matter is resolved,” he told this paper on phone.
“Right now, they  have blocked the roads that are leading to the mines. The  ‘Devils’ are there. There is no work going on now. They are many. But we will try to  resolve  it. We are talking with them,” he said.
Traditionally, only members can hold meetings with them. Nonmembers are prohibited.
Traditional  zoes are powerful in  Liberian setting and their actions at times can lead to  the imposition of some mystical actions  on both human and no humans. As a result of this,  they are respected in  their action and normally, care is taken in  handling matters in which they are associate with.
Not only that, but also, they  can serve as   peace makers in times of confusion between and among citizens and non-citizens. In most cases,  when   civil authorities  are unable to resolve disputes, they are called in for settlement. So, with their involvement of this, key government officials believe that dialogue can be used to resolve the crisis.
AML has  been accused by citizens in both Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties, two of the counties where they operate of not  going by the MDA. Recently, a former lawmaker and president Pro-Tempore of Liberian Senate, Gberzongar Findley sued it for noncompliance.  Findley  was the only lawmaker who refused a pickup ‘gift’ from AML when they first entered in Liberia in 2005.
Somwarbi said the situation  is serious and requires immediate attention.  He is a   house committee member of Education  and  administration as well as co-chairman on health.
His statement was buttressed by Armstrong Selekpo, a member of the Nimba Youth Group which is  also calling on the company to follow the previous  MDA.  He  told this paper that , “the Poro people are very serious about this and I think AML needs to start doing the right  thing now.”
One senior citizen from the county who is a member of the Poro society said, the  Poro members were  given US$600.00(Six hundred dollars) as  ‘cold water ‘ to clear the way before they can start negotiation.
“But the people refused. They said, they are not doing it for money, but they only want for AML to do the best thing. They want  AML to operate in Nimba, but they are not doing what is needed to be done. Once they start to do the right thing, AML will work freely,”

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