Several communities in Yekepa are currently facing an acute shortage of safe drinking water, compelling the residents to fetch their drinking water from the jungle.
The Daily Observer, on a tour of some of the camps in Yekepa, including areas N, L, O and others, discovered that these communities are facing severe water problems which they claim have been brought to the attention of the Arcelor Mittal Management.
Eric Yarwiah, a resident of area “L” in Yekepa, said, “We fetch our water from the spring right down in the valley because we are not benefiting from water provided by Mittal.”
“We do not have even a hand pump within this community and continue to get drinking water from the spring in the jungle down the valley,” he added.
When this reporter visited areas “L and N, people were seen getting water from the valley, about a 20 minute trek away somewhere around area “P.”
Most of those seen at the spring drawing water were children of area residents.
“My name is Theresa. I lived around area “O” and I come here daily to get our water because we do not have a well or pump around us,” a 12 year-old girl told our reporter.
Yekepa is getting crowded, with people coming from across Liberia seeking for jobs and better living conditions.
Some citizens expressed frustration over the failure of Mittal to provide them with safe drinking water or even electricity during the night.
“We need electricity in our homes and this is absent. But Mittal is yet to install one light pole for street lights during the night. We are so surprised at the way they are separating us from their workers,” said Mary Bangura, resident of area “P”.
Presently, Yekepa is divided into two, with workers of Mittal living in some of the camps already renovated with pipe borne water and 24-hour electricity.
But, the rest of the camps are yet to benefit from any of these amenities, forcing many of the neglected communities to get drinking water from the spring.
When contacted the public relations officer of Mittal, Mr. Jerry Mwagbe, said the company only provides water to where they have their workers.
Most of the areas in Yekepa are yet to be renovated almost 10 years after Mittal took over operations of Liberia’s leading iron ore deposit in Nimba.
The renovated camps where Mittal workers are living have been barricaded with wire fences and presently the company is issuing ID cards to all occupants to distinguish them from non-workers. However, according to the public relations officer, the fencing was intended to maintain security and monitor random movement.