Several Liberians, especially those in areas where the National Road Fund has made a great impact have lauded President George M. Weah for the construction of roads in several part of the country since his ascendency as President of Liberia in 2018. Many of the beneficiaries who spoke to this paper said their communities have benefitted immensely from the smart leadership vision of the Liberian leader. “President George Weah’s visionary leadership role has led to the construction of more roads and bridges across the country, through the National Road Fund of Liberia-NRF,” they proudly said. It can be recalled that President Weah in 2018, said that he would ensure that the National Road Fund get the needed support through legislation to make all of the petroleum companies importing gas into the country comply with the collection of the twenty-five cents on each gallon of gas as a means of supporting the construction of roads in the country. Since 2018, the National Road Fund of Liberia has been transparently managing the fund and working with the relevant Ministries mostly the Ministry of Public Works to construct roads within Montserrado and other parts of the country. “I think this aspect of the President’s vision should be commended; this is what past leaders failed to do. Some past governments had huge international support but did nothing towards helping the road fund,” Mr. Sylvester Smith, a resident of Kebah road in Barnesville told a team of reporters who went to take a look at some of the projects in the districts over the weekend. Kebah is one of the areas that benefitted from the National Road Fund projects. In 2018, President Weah told Liberians that his government will build a coastal highway and connect every county capital, a commitment that is becoming a reality through the funding of the NRF and the securing of loans. With funding from the National Road Fund of Liberia, feeder roads maintenance and rehabilitation works were fully supported namely, Palala to Zoweinta road, Gbonota to Bletanda in Bong County. Other areas where the Government makes impactful interventions on road connectivity include the maintenance of Clay Island Bridge, Brewerville Bridges, Du-River Bridge in Margibi, Bentol Bridge among others. Additional road intervention by NRF is Chucky Taylor Road, Voka Mission Road, Logan Town Broad Street, Chubor Road, Buchanan Fair Ground, Rehab Community Road among others. The NRF also funded the asphalt pavement of St. Michael Town, Hall Patience Shop Road, Dry Rice Market to Johnsonville, Banjor Community Road, Nickley Town, among others. Speaking to a cross-section of Liberians at the Coca-Cola Factory Community in Paynesville, a Motorcyclist, Joesph Tabolo said President Weah has done great improvement in constructing roads and improving it with streetlights. According to Tabolo, the various road projects in Paynesville which have been paved by the Liberian Government through the taxes that are being managed by the National Road Fund worth commendation. Also speaking, Victoria Davids, a student at the University of Liberia praised President George Weah for appointing a visionary woman, Mrs. Joseta Neufville-Wento as Chief Executive Officer of the National Road Fund of Liberia. According to her, within a short time as CEO of NRF, Mrs. Wento has been able to launch a three-month internship program with the objective of expanding the entity by incorporating a comprehensive knowledge development program thus, enhancing the value of the technical workforce involved in their duties. Recently during the launch of a three-month internship program of the NRF, CEO Wento noted that the program became a reality after an in-depth brainstorming and discussions among management and other relevant stakeholders including the University of Liberia, the Engineering Society of Liberia, the Liberian Association of Architects and private construction companies. She said the initiative aims to promote the NRF among the people and give back to society, especially to students currently enrolled at various universities seeking internship opportunities.

We are deeply saddened by the propaganda stunt being waged against Liberia’s biggest concession and taxpayer, ArcelorMittal, by the so-called “Liberian Economy”.

For close to a year so far, the “Liberian Economy”, in what appears to be a proxy fight for companies with vested interest in the usage of the Yekepa to Buchanan railway and port facilities, has been peddling dangerous falsehoods about AML’s operations and the proposed third amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement between the Liberia Government and ArcelorMittal.

These packaged falsehoods deliberately being spewed out by the webpage, “Liberian Economy”, if not addressed, has the potential to threaten the national security of our country.

Everywhere around the world especially in developing countries, it has been historically proven that youth unemployment leads to national security crisis which can take form of a disruption of the peace of a nation. When youth of a country are unemployed, the feeling of disappointment may lead such a person to express his anger through violence that will be directed on those he holds responsible or people who are directly or indirectly related to them, largely the government.

Since post-war, Liberia has been grappling with high unemployment rate. The government has been taking some measures to empower our youthful population by attracting foreign direct investments to narrow the unemployment gap. ArcelorMittal, since its advent in 2005, stands as the biggest foreign direct investment and the largest taxpayer in Liberia.

The company has taken thousands of families from poverty through the creation of sustainable employments for young Liberians. Also, believing that the greatest resource of every nation is its human resource, the company has heavily invested thousands of dollars to fund the education of young Liberia abroad and locally to acquire advanced knowledge in specific areas Liberia needs to address the demand of the labour market.

In September of 2021, the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal signed a restated Mineral Development Agreement when ratified by the Legislature, will lead to an additional investment of over 1.2 billion United States Dollars into our economy by the concession giant-AML-which will also correspondently lead to the creation of over 2,000 direct new jobs and 4,000 indirect new jobs for Liberians that are already unemployed.

But since this welcoming development from the global steel giant-AML-to expand its operations and investment in Liberia, the so-called, “Liberian Economy,” a propaganda webpage created in foreign domicile to front for a company with vested interest in having access right to the Yekepa to Buchanan railway and the Buchanan port infrastructure to transport its ore has been sponsoring several media attacks packed with calculated falsehoods against a well-intentioned Mineral Development Agreement to the peril of our national security.

These dangerous lies from a propaganda webpage should be condemned and shamed or else, if we allow their deliberate lies to thrive, it will only threaten our national security as a country and people.

The daily survival of thousands of Liberians and local small and medium sized businesses depends on ArcelorMittal’s stay in Liberia. So, encouraging malicious falsehoods from the “Liberian Economy” and its sponsors against the extension of AML’s stay or investment in Liberia will only be putting over 3,000 young Liberians who are already gainfully employed with the company out of jobs. This also goes to say that if AML folds out of Liberia, bread will be taken from the tables of thousands of families and a few businesses.

As part of ArcelorMittal-Liberia’s phase two expansion, there will be deployment of huge number of earth-moving equipment both for the mines and construction works in Buchanan to Yekepa.

To ensure this, the company will have to hire a new group of workers and contract several Liberian firms to help with its deployment of logistics as a means of empowering local Liberian businesses. And so, any slanderous propaganda from a proxy webpage – the so-called “Liberian Economy” – when given currency will only be stagnating the growth of small and medium sized businesses in Liberia some of whom are already offering a range of services to ArcelorMittal-Liberia.

Aside from the provision of additional jobs the phase two expansion is set to create, there will be a leap from 40 million to 80 million per annum in the royalty and taxes AML pays to the government of Liberia as a support to the national budget.

There will also be an increment in the amount given to Bong, Grand Bassa, and Nimba counties as social corporate responsibility funds. These welcoming developments, no doubt, are huge boost for our country and are not what Liberia will want to risk losing by buying into the childish tantrums being peddled on the webpage of the hired and so-called “Liberian Economy.”

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