ArcelorMittal Liberia continues with community impact projects in mines communities in Nimba, ownership by the residents remains the sticky issue that both officials of government and AML are urging beneficiaries to exhibit.
In a stern comment at the recent ground-breaking program for a children’s playground in Camp-4 near the township of Yekepa, Nimba County District #3 Representative, Joseph Nyah Somwarbi told the community residents who attended the program to take ownership of what AML provides for them by protecting and maintaining them, noting, “Without showing to those providing these things that you care for them and can maintain them, they will not be pleased and willing to do more for you.”
Representative Somwarbi’s comment was especially sparked by information that 45 of the 75 pieces of streetlights AML installed in the township of Yekepa and dedicated by the Representative on December 24, 2021, have been stolen.
Representative Somwarbi bluntly indicated that the residents will yearn and pressurize ArcelorMittal to carry out corporate social responsibility projects that will be beneficial to them, but as those things are provided, they, the main stakeholders, and beneficiaries will not protect them.
When these things come to you, you will be the same people to secretly sell them to others to get your cut. As building this playground is coming about, you will be the same people coming to the contractor or those keeping materials to sell them overnight. These are acts that can weaken development. If you want to build, go to Yekepa, and buy your own cement,” the Representative told the locals.
He added, “Some of you doing these things only do it to take in drugs or drink wine, and what you are doing is a problem for others who equally have shares in the development package the company brings here. Please stop this act.”
The lawmaker, commending AML for the project, admitted that the company pays all the money in social development funds but not much impact is made perhaps due to competing priorities the government has, thereby diverting it to other issues.
He said it was the main reason they decided to allow AML spends more than the required 20% of social development fund directly in affected communities to reduce the resentment locals have that they are not benefiting from AML’s operations.
“You spend the money, but the communities are not benefiting perhaps due to competing priorities of the government. Even the last money you paid has not been remitted into the county’s account, but thanks for the projects you continue to undertake for the benefit of the communities,” Somwarbi said to representatives of ArcelorMittal Liberia at the event.
In a remark, Community Relations Manager, Vaanii Kiazolu, urged members of the Local Consultative Forum (LCF) to take ownership of the playground and maintain what will be put there, stressing that it is not a property for an individual but for every child of Camp-4.
Also speaking, Edmund Saye Gbah, AML Community Relations Supervisor, emphasized that the management thought to establish the playground because the children themselves are owners of the resources and they must equally have the benefits. Mr. Gbah noted that children have the right to play, and without play a child cannot think and behave well.
The playground project undertaken by AML is meant to create the opportunity for children in communities of impact to have a place to play to prevent them from loitering and engaging in negative activities.