In spite of the slump in iron ore prices on the world market, Mr. Michel Prive, chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal Liberia has assured the nation that the company is here to stay.
Mr. Prive made the remark at the company’s club house in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County last Saturday during the certification of the second batch of five Liberians who have qualified as locomotive drivers. Mr. Prive said the company is more determined to ensure that Liberians are trained to fill positions to assist in government’s Liberianization drive.
The five newly qualified employees bring the total number of Liberian locomotive drivers to nine. The five are Jackson Tingban, Don Hayes, Harris Luke, Willie Horace and Lawrence Wilson.
The first group was also comprised of five trainees but one is deceased. The eighteen months training cost ArcelorMittal US$100,000. (US$20,000 per student), an official said.
Mr. Johan Bekker, one of the manager’s in the Rail Department, said the training included theoretical and practical skills followed by a series of tests.
“The training is of world class standard for train crews. The instructors are expatriates with years of rail experience in South Africa and the United Kingdom,” he stated.
“Despite the bad market experience, ArcelorMittal is still here because we are here to stay and develop Liberia together,” Prive declared.
He said the five Liberians have demonstrated that having completed eighteen months of intensive training and tests to be qualified as locomotive drivers, means they are prepared to accept added responsibility to move the company forward.
“I urge you to apply the knowledge from your training to take care of yourselves and your colleagues and you must ensure that you accept responsibility for your safety. We count on you to grow with your responsibility,” Prive told them, as their family members and a cross-section of workers cheered.
He added: “The training is in line with ArcellorMittal Liberia’s succession planning, which is intended to create more opportunities and build the capacity of Liberian employees while preparing them for higher roles and responsibilities.”
Mr. Erich Katzke of ArcelorMittal’s HR Business Partner, said the company has two objectives, “To do mining and to develop Liberia.”
He urged the graduates to accept the challenge, reminding them of the higher responsibility that is now on their shoulders, as well as the pivotal roles that they must play in the company.
Katzke said the five Liberians must accept the responsibility to be the role models for future Liberians as the company reassesses its priorities but with a focus to develop the capacity of Liberian workers.
Mr. Denis Foulds, ArcelorMittal’s head of Rail and Port, encouraged the five Liberians to take the mantle and run with it.
On behalf of the newly certificated locomotive drivers, Lawrence Wilson recounted the eighteen months of training in three phases since 2013.
“It was initially difficult but we were determined to follow through and despite the challenges we encountered we made it and therefore we thank ArcelorMittal and our families for their wonderful support,” Wilson said.
He also assured ArcelorMittal, their families and Liberians in general that having completed the very difficult training they are ready to be responsible on their jobs to encourage the management of ArcelorMittal to do more for Liberians.