What Was Observed?

-After House’s Team Visited Yekepa, Quarry And Buchanan

By T. Saye Goinleh

Recently a seven-member fact-finding team from the lower House of the Legislature concluded a tour at ArcelorMittal’s concession areas in Yekepa, Nimba County; Green Hill Quarry in Bong County and Buchanan in Grand Bassa County.

According to one member of the visiting committee, Nimba County electoral district three lawmaker Joseph Somwarbi, their tour of the facilities of the world steel giant company was a follow-up on claims by the management of ArcelorMittal during an appearance before the House’s plenary that basic social services like latrines, safe drinking water, housing, medical benefits and transportation were available for employees at all sites.

Somwarbi informed the New Republic at his Capitol Building office recently that the pronouncement by the company that all these things were being enjoyed by workers came about when he accused management before the plenary that the company was reneging on the rehabilitation of the railroad from Buchanan to Yekepa constructed by LAMCO.

He said when quizzed why the restoration of the rail stopped at Mount Torkardee in Zolowee, ArcelorMittal asserted to him that reaching it to Yekepa was not to their need based on the Mineral Development Agreement signed with the Liberian Government.

Rep. Somwarbi went on to say that when they arrived on the ground in Yekepa, it was the irony of the situation as was portrayed by management in Monrovia. He explained that contrary to what the team was informed about at the Capitol concerning healthcare, the main referral hospital in the concession area of Yekepa is abandoned and operating below clinic level with just one lab technician, a dispenser and two medical doctors.

The Nimba district three representative further narrated that to the total amazement of members of the fact-finding team based on tipoff, they discovered a special chartered clinic reserved for expatriate employees equipped with modern facilities, adequate drugs supply and air conditions in all rooms. He averred that they were able to establish that the foreign health center is known as MED EL Africa operated on a contractual basis.

The team was also able to gather that the management of ArcelorMittal since it commenced operation in the county has failed to renovate houses and other infrastructures built and left behind by LAMCO at the height of the Liberia civil upheavals.

Many workers of ArcelorMittal are still dwelling in pre-fabricated houses and some are living in rented places in Sanniquellie, Gbarpa, Zolowee and Sehyikainpa. Some employees are also residing in containers.

In Nimba, the lawmakers visited Mounts Gangra and Tokadee; two of the highest peaks of the Nimba Mountains where surprisingly the company has retreated from Tokadee and now exploiting.

They observed that instead of ArcelorMittal transporting the exploited Iron Ore by electrical means; it is being conveyed manually doing this is by trucks via a six-ten-kilometer route there depriving farmers in the areas reaching their villages because the road was built with high walls that only ladders can be used to climb.

The team was also afforded the opportunity to tour facilities at Green Hill Quarry in Bong County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County where it discovered similar grave social conditions confronting employees of ArcelorMittal.

Those who formed part of the visit to the concession areas of the world steel giant company included Rep. Joseph N. Somwarbi of Nimba County, Thomas Gosuah of Grand Bassa, Albert Hill of Bong, Dorwohn Gleekia of Nimba, Rustolyn  Dennis of Montserrado, Alexander Poure of River Gee (Co-Chair) and Hon. Vincent Willie of Bassa (Chair).

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