Liberia: US Foreign Relations Committee shows Special Interest in Multi-user Access of Liberia’s Railways for All Investors

Investment in Liberia, particularly in the mining sector, has been encountering a sensitive blockade that has become a nightmare for all companies thinking about investing in Liberia.

The use of the railway by other companies to export iron ore out of the country through the port of Buchanan has until now been conditioned by ArcelorMittal. Despite decisions taken and promises made by the Weah administration, the situation remains unchanged.

This situation is seriously halting a multi-million American investment in the country, thus delaying the creation of thousands of jobs for Liberian youths.

In negotiations that led to the finalization of ArcelorMittal’s 3rd Mineral Development Agreement in late 2021, AML agreed that it supports the ideal of other companies using the railway.

As stated in the 3rd MDA, the company agreed for what all the parties called ‘Multi-user Arrangement” where the government will manage the railway and receive proceeds directly while AML serves just an operator role.

As rail operator, AML’s only responsibility would have been typically working with the government to monitor the rail system and communicate with other users appropriately for free and safe flow of traffic and make quick decisions in emergency situations.

Photo 2: Liberia's Railway that links Yekepa to the port of Buchanan

Following the confirmation hearing last week of U.S. Ambassador Designate to Liberia, Mark Toner, the new Ambassador re-emphasized the importance of the multi-user railway for the Liberian economy.

“Meaningful progress on implementing multi-user access to Liberia’s railways is expected to be delayed until after the inauguration in January 2024 of the winner of Liberia’s ongoing Presidential election – of which the second round of voting takes place in November. Nonetheless, if confirmed, I will advocate both before and after the election for multi-user access.” Ambassador-designate Mark C. Toner said to a senator who was eager to know the Ambassador’s assessment of Liberia’s commitment to providing a multi-user.

“What diplomatic options are available to ensure that the Government of Liberia makes multi-user access available for railways?” Another Senator asked.

“If confirmed, I will continue to advocate with the Government of Liberia to stand by its commitments to and agreements with investors, including HPX,” Toner answered.