‘Not a Bottle of Marketable Oil Found’

first_imgGrand Cape Mount Senator Varney Sherman has reechoed his prediction that the country’s economy will face very serious challenges with the downsizing or closure of concession companies and reports that oil companies in the country are yet to find a single bottle of marketable oil, and with Anadarko shutting down operations. Cllr. Sherman spoke at a day-long discussion on the state of the Liberian economy in the Chambers of the Senate last Thursday. According to him, “Too many Liberians” do not know that Putu Iron Ore Mining Company has effectively closed down and ArcelorMittal Liberia has reduced its workforce, the intention being to reduce expenses. China Union is doing the same and every iron ore company is doing just that.Declared Cllr. Sherman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary, “Every oil company in the country is doing absolutely nothing. I know that to be a fact because some of them were represented by me in their negotiations before I became a Senator. Anadarko has closed down, Chevron is doing nothing and ExxonMobil, nothing. They have not found a single bottle of marketable oil. Prices of our cash crop products, coffee and cocoa, have all gone down. There are reports that a barrel of oil is now less than US$27. Three years ago a barrel was US$103.”He warned his colleagues saying, “If we don’t discuss these things in the Senate and let the Liberian people know that we are aware and that the government will take the necessary remedial actions, when the mess hits the fan, they will say we were in complicity with these companies, and you know that we are not.” The lawmakers’ discussion was necessitated by a letter dated January 13, 2016 sent to the Senate plenary by Grand Bassa Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence in which she alluded to the closure and downsizing of operations by some concessions like ArcelorMittal Liberia and Putu Mining, the difficulties and delays in disbursement of budgetary allotments to ministries and agencies, and several months’ delay in releasing the Social and County Development Funds, as some of the reasons for concern and fear of an imminent deficit in the National Budget.She called on her colleagues to start the 5th Session of the 53rd Legislature with a special hearing session with the Ministry of Finance, the National Investment Commission, and the Liberia Revenue Authority to make an assessment of the Liberian economy.At that hearing last Thursday, Senator Sherman indicated the need to pay serious attention to the situation and call in the relevant agencies such as Finance and Development Planning, Liberia Revenue Authority, and even the Ministry of Commerce, stating, “Because with our limited knowledge, these companies are importing less today than they imported last year. We need to discuss it and let our people know that we are aware about the impending problem.”“If at the end of the day all turns out well, thank God. But suppose it doesn’t end well and we never informed our people, never told them that we were doing something about their situation, and then we will be guilty of the charge of complicity. That is why I talk here and I talked before at the graduation of the United Methodist University that it will not be easy in 2016 and it might even be worse in 2017. But if our people know and they anticipate the problem and know that the government is working very hard to ameliorate the problems, they will appreciate us. But if we ignore it and things get bad, they will charge us of complicity with these institutions.”Cllr. Sherman, who is one of the country’s leading corporate lawyers, said those who listen to the world news regularly know that things are bad, not only in Liberia, but all over the world and that the only country that seems to be surviving is the United States of America. “Russia is feeling it, China is feeling it. China does not import our raw materials and any other raw materials like it did last year. Its export is down to six percent, and this was a country that was growing at 10 percent GDP. This is serious! “And these people (ordinary citizens) who we think are not listening to the news or watching the news, they are listening and watching. But they are waiting to send us an ultimatum like they have done in the case of Victoria Zayzay, which means they are waiting for the last moment and then they will come and we will give them flimsy excuses.”Admonishing his colleagues, Sen. Sherman advised, “We need to handle this matter and let our people know beforehand that we know that there is a problem coming and we are working to ameliorate the difficulty that will occur, and I think if they know that difficulty is ahead they will appreciate it better. But for us to ignore it, you would have misinformed them and misrepresented them.” Most of the Senators suggested some austerity measures such as a reduction of their salaries and benefits, prohibiting luxurious lifestyles of flying first class and riding very expensive cars.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Bea Mountain Employees Want Salary Increment, Benefits

first_imgMinister of Internal Affairs Varney Sirleaf, Chief Zanzan Karwor, and community residents during the dialogue.Aggrieved workers of the Liberty Gold Mine operated by the Bea Mountain Corporation in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount are appealing to the government through the Ministry of Labor and other agencies to immediately order the company to increase their salaries and settle their claims.Bea Mountain Corporation, which is a subsidiary of Aureus Mining Company, is operating under an 8-year concession agreement with the Government of Liberia. Details of the concession agreement remain scanty but according to sources, the company is expected to produce a billion dollars worth of gold over the 8-year period.It also remains unclear just how much the people of Kinjor as well as the Government of Liberia stand to receive from the production of a billion dollars worth of gold. It is also unclear how much the World Bank through its offspring, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), stands to benefit from the operation as the largest shareholder.But one thing which experts in the industry seem to agree on is that the people of Kinjor as well as the government of Liberia are being shortchanged.The distressed workers said the lack of due process in job dismissals, the disparity in amenities and salaries for expatriate versus local workers, the demand for improved services, and fulfillment of overdue obligations lie at the heart of the current problem at Kinjor.They further alleged that they have on several occasions called on the county leadership to address the matter before the onset of the rainy season – well before the matter got out of hand – but felt that their concerns went virtually ignored. “These people, Cape Mount Caucus, you are seeing here today are very wicked; we have called several times but they have refused to come to our call. Or is it because they have heard about the ‘country devil’ is why they came? That’s just the beginning,” said an aggrieved resident.Partial view of residents at the dialogue.Varney Kromah, a local resident, said that over the past months and years, they have been complaining about problems that include unemployment and unfair labor practices, including the issue of resettlement benefits, cooperative farming, and the planting of cornerstones among others.And because management had allegedly paid deaf ears to their concerns, on February 5, 2018 residents requested the intervention of the ‘country devil,’ which paralyzed the entire operations of Aureus Gold, according to Varney Kromah.The intervention of the ‘country devil’ stalled the free movement of non-members and shut down other businesses. The situation led to the shooting and wounding of two persons, namely Zina Dassin and Francis Benson, by officers of the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police. The wounded persons are still undergoing treatment at the J.F.K Memorial Hospital.Emmanuel Kamara, spokesperson of the group, said Bea Mountain is “using us like tools,” without providing any incentives for services rendered. He declared, “We have held several meetings with them including management and the Board Chairman, who assured us that we will receive our due benefits, but to no avail up to present.”But one of the workers, Miatta Paul, told the Daily Observer in Kinjor over the weekend that they are yet to receive anything regarding the payment of the benefits the company owes them, including money they promised to be given for their children’s school fees. According to Miatta, the Bea Mountain management promised each worker US$200 for their children’s fees.Ms. Paul, who is one of the contractors on the gold mine, revealed to our reporter that in order for the New Liberty Gold to operate in the area, about 325 families in two villages, Kinjor and Larjor, were forced to leave their homes, farms, and artisanal mines that had provided income for them.Construction began on the mine in 2014, and the first gold sales came a year later. Even though the company describes the operation as a ‘key asset,’ the promised better amenities are yet to materialize years later, and there has already been one major chemical spill that has polluted the environment, Miatta Paul said.In return for their relocation to a new village, also named Kinjor, which was carved out of the forest near the mine, the company promised to make life better: new houses, a school, hand pumps, which could have made all the difference for them.For their part, Traditional Council of Liberia chairman Chief Zanzan Karwor and Cape Mount District #2 Representative Mambu Sonii said from the investigation conducted, they see no conflict between the residents and Bea Mountain managers in Kinjor.They observed that what is stalling progress in the area is the people themselves and not the company. They warned that until the inhabitants of Kinjor including the youth and elders of that area stop the internal wrangling, development will continue to elude them. They further declared that the company continues to exploit them because of their disunity.Chief Zanzan Karwor, who spoke on behalf of the Traditional Council, called for a revisit of the Resettlement Action Plan and Concessional Agreement, and used the occasion to order a halt to all Poro activities in the area.He blamed community and government relations manager, Sando Wayne, for hastily calling in the Liberia National Police’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU), whose intervention led to the shooting and wounding of two civilians. Chief Karwor said Wayne should understand that he is a Liberian and should also consider himself as a ‘twin father,’ meaning he should work for both sides.For his part, Representative Mambu Sonii of District #2 lauded Chief Karwor for his sound analysis in the Kinjor case, adding that he believes that the problem in Kinjor is the people themselves, and called on the Minister of Internal Affairs to have another meeting to settle the internal problems between the elders, youth, and the landowners, or else ‘they will always continue to cry.’In remarks, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf thanked all of the speakers for their participation and said several meetings will be called in order to find a lasting solution to the Kinjor problem.Minister Sirleaf vowed to constructively engage the landowners including the elders so they can all sit down to a dialogue on the Kinjor issue. The Internal Affairs Minister in his remarks appealed to the Bea Mountain management to install varnished ceilings in all of the housing units under construction for the residents, all part of promises made to residents.He also encouraged the company to have the clinic effectively running. The minister further called on the company to consider the agriculture program that forms part of the Resettlement Action Plan so the uneducated can take advantage of it. Minister Sirleaf then imposed a US$1,500 fine on the management of the Bea Mountain Mining Company.Clarifying the fine, Minister Sirleaf said the it does not imply guilt, but was intended to cement the broken relationships between the company and the residents of Kinjor and Lajor.In conclusion, Sando Wayne, community and government relations manager of Bea Mountain, acknowledged the plight of the workers and residents, and promised to get back to them very soon.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more