-- ArcelorMittal Liberia attributes the latest instance to ‘criminal activity
ArcelorMittal, the Indian steel giant that is operating in the Nimba Mountains in the mining town of Yekepa, has reported another derailment of its locomotive.
According to a release issued by the company yesterday, it was 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21, when the locomotive was traveling from Tokadeh in Nimba County to the port of Buchanan when it was reportedly targeted by criminal activities that led to the derailment.
“One of its locomotives traveling from Tokadeh in Nimba County to Buchanan was targeted by criminal activities that resulted in an incident on the rail track around Kilometer 215 near Sanniquellie. The presumed target of these criminals were the tarpaulins covering the iron ore wagons to keep out moisture from the ore,” the statement indicates.
The release indicates that during the attack, some of the moving wagons were deliberately disconnected from its braking systems and veered off the rail track resulting in damage to a portion of the rail line.
There is no report of fatalities or injuries, and the company says it is assessing the impact and working with the police and other security authorities to conduct an investigation into the matter. The company says it condemns the attack on its property and notes that this will not help the people of Liberia but will create the environment of instability that will drive other investors away.
ArcelorMittal recently ratified its agreement with the Liberian Government and is to invest $800 million in the mining operation. Quite recently ArcelorMittal sent abroad four Liberian students to study in different fields under its scholarship scheme.
Commentators on the other hand are saying that the fault may be from the rail because it has stayed long without rehabilitation. Before Mittal began using the rail, the company first rehabilitated it from Yekepa to Buchanan.
Although this current derailment is a result of criminal activity, as the Management claims, there have been some instances of derailment along the railway from Yekepa to Buchanan in recent time. It may be recalled that in June 2020, a locomotive of 66 wagons carrying iron ore from Yekepa to Buchanan derailed near Zuluyee, a village not far from the commercial town of Ganta. Also, in May this year, two of the company’s locomotives, traveling in opposite directions, collided near Constance’s Farm. The company attributed the collision to ‘internal communication fault’.