In today’s interconnected world, foreign investment, and business play a crucial role in driving economic growth and creating job opportunities.
To ensure a conducive environment for these activities, governments must prioritize providing safety and security. Sadly, this has not been the case as Liberia’s largest taxpayer and the country’s only consistent foreign investment since the end of the war continues to come under increased sabotage and attacks.
On 28th August 2023, ArcelorMittal Liberia reported a derailment on the rail track involving one of its locomotives which was travelling from Yekepa to the port of Buchanan, in Grand Bassa County.
An AML statement unveiled how the derailment happened due to the theft of railway fasteners by unknown individuals.
The biggest foreign direct investment in Liberia to data, ArcelorMittal continues to witness repeated violent attacks and theft of rail ties, and other metal fasteners that secure the tracks to the rail sleepers.
On the evening of July 28 July 2023, gunmen with machetes and other dangerous weapons stormed its Tokadeh Mines in Yekepa, Nimba County severely injuring one employee and a police officer.
The gang also ransacked and damaged valuable mining assets including vehicles and other equipment. The police were called and responded swiftly to the attack and restored calm to the Mines.
Police report later confirmed that gang members are part of a criminal syndicate stationed in the town of Zolowee, which is located in District #3 in Nimba, and bent on stealing fuel oil and heavy-duty spare parts from ArcelorMittal
It became a surprise that even with full knowledge of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of National Defence for a full investigation into the attack on AML’s operations and the prosecution of those involved, the government has yet to make any statement on the matter.
Memory is fresh about how a group of young men violently attacked ArcelorMittal’s Buchanan concession areas, set tires on fire at the entrance of the complex disrupted normal work activities, and even threatened employees and staff safety.
It is a hard time the government strongly condemns these acts of violence against a leading foreign business and put in place safety robust measure to s ensure the safety and well-being of AML of operational areas as well as employee stop priority
The Liberian government must understand that stability breeds confidence. This is to say that investors and businesses seek stability in the countries they operate in because a secure environment minimizes risks, boosts investor confidence, and encourages long-term commitments.
In attracting investments, governments that prioritize safety and security are more likely to be considered since every business is willing to invest when they are assured that their assets and interests will be protected.
Foreign investments like ArcelorMittal when provided security and protection operate at optimal levels and help stimulate economic growth by infusing capital, technology, and expertise. This leads to increased job opportunities, improved infrastructure, and a stronger economy overall.
A safe and secure environment for foreign businesses can foster a healthy business climate because entrepreneurs are more inclined to start new ventures and expand existing ones when they feel protected.
When we prioritize safety and security measures for businesses that operate throughout our country and do not leave them alone, we are directly helping to mitigate risk factors that multilateral investment firms fear for investments.
We cannot continue to overlook attacks on the foreign business that pays the highest in taxes and royalties which help solve social problems which are visible across Liberia.
We must all stand up for what is right and help protect AML and all well-meaning concessions by demonstrating that for sure, Liberia is ready for business.
This will encourage more investors to explore our shores and seek new market opportunities with confidence.