Citizens of Grand Cape Mount County, especially women and youths from the towns of Madina, Mankoh and Soh, have begun an indefinite protest at Madina Rock Crusher (MRC) in demand of the rebuilding of over 30 houses, which they alleged broke down due to rock explosions.
The aggrieved women Monday, July 7, lamented that about 37 families are homeless while more than 12 persons are seeking medical attention at the Gbenejii Hospital because of the collapse. They have expressed fear of what might happen next.
Madam Yatta Dosii, the county chairlady, told journalists that the demonstration stemmed from failed negotiation with the management of MRC, owned by the multi-millionaire Lebanese businessman Ezzat Eid.
“We can’t sit down and don’t do something why we don’t have anywhere to live…our lives are threatened; our houses are falling down because of the explosions,” Madam Dosii lamented. “We won’t allow foreigners to take our lands cheaply and destroy our homes and just walk away.”
She added: “What are we women for? To look after our children for the future. MRC must rebuild our homes, and we want the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Justice to intervene to save our environment, lands and children.”
The Grand Cape Mount women’s protest marked the second such demonstration in less than five months. Recently the inhabitants of Duazon in Montserrado County expressed their disapproval of the rock crusher’s blasts in their community on the Robertsfield Highway.
The angry Cape Mountainians in February 2014 demonstrated against the explosions as a result of the safety of their children and themselves.
The youths, under the banner, Concerned Youths, headed by Mohammed Dosii, have petitioned the management of MRC, cataloguing six points to be addressed to end the protest.
The protest was read in front of a representative of the management of MRC, an Indian identified only as Arnu, Madina Commissioner Kasor Kadii, the Regional Chief Superintendent of Police, Daniel B. Gotojuwee along with some officers of the Grand Cape Mount Police Detachment and others.
Chief amongst the points were the reconditioning and reconstruction of damaged houses, a review of the 20-year contract between the town and the MRC, and the improvement of workers’ conditions of service at MRC.
According to Mr. Dosii, besides the human right abuses in the towns, the more than 65 workers of the company are also suffering.
He said the aggrieved women and youths, after the settling of the saga between the MRC and the towns, would also be protesting against Sime Darby for their deliberate refusal of settling affecting communities in Madina, which are part of affected communities from their Palm Plantation.
Some of the MRC’s workers, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, said there is no health facility, neither safe drinking water in the company’s yard and five employees are assigned in a tight-room, while a Lebanese lives in a three-bedroom apartment.
The workers stated that besides the drivers, the rest of the employees are receiving between L$5,500 to US$100 monthly, without food.
A driver, one of the five workers interviewed, disclosed that about half of them fall sick monthly because of the tense working hours, 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
A tour of the facility by team of journalists exposed a germ-infested and unsafe environment — uncut grass, piles of dirt, polluted air and dirty water.
Meanwhile, the Madina Commission Kasor Kadii and Regional Police Chief Gotojuwee hailed the citizens for their peaceful demonstration, but urged them to continue to remain peaceful; and should remove the road block in front of the MRC—a suggestion the protestors refused to honor until they obtain the intervention of the Grand Cape Mount Legislative Caucus.
Ezzat Eid, when contacted by the Daily Observer last night, admitted that he owned the rock crusher at Madina.
He said he was aware of the damaged houses and had agreed with the people to pay US$800 for the repairs, an amount which they, the people, stipulated. The amount was to be paid yesterday, Monday, but they had not come to Monrovia for it. So tomorrow the money will be sent to them.
Mr. Eid said he has good relations with the people at Madina, Mankoh and Soh, the general vicinities where the rock crusher is located. He said the investment is worth US$8 million; and his company has a license from the EPA to do the blasting.
He said he spends US$3,000 annually at the University of Liberia for tuition for their children; and has also built for them a general market near Madina.
He has invited the Daily Observer to visit the site in order to assess the situation and show all of the documents connected with the agreement with the Cape Mount people.