The Daily Observer has learned of an increase in criminal activities in the operational segment of ArcelorMittal’s Concession in Yekepa, Nimba County.
Ambrose Gbormie, a staff of ArcelorMittal, made the disclosure at a ceremony marking the close of a two-day third Annual National Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) Conference held in Ganta, Nimba County.
Gbormie told the gathering that the crime rate has become so unprecedented that criminals, carrying cutlasses and fully armed with single-barrel shotguns, can be seen attacking security posts during the daytime.
He said the armed men have repeatedly attacked security posts around mounts Gangra and Torkadeh, thereby taking away some of the company’s valuable equipment and petroleum stock.
“Men armed with shotguns and cutlasses always storm the operational areas at the mounts, putting the private security guards under gunpoint to the extent that the robbers would take away anything they can get their hands on,” Mr. Gbormie informed the gathering.
He recalled that on Monday, September 30, 2019, there was an incident where criminal activity was reported at the mines.
Mr. Gbormie, therefore, called on officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to give support to the unarmed private security guards which the company hired to protect its facilities.
But a senior LNP officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused ArcelorMittal of failing to provide petroleum products to the police so as to enhance their patrol.
“We have the vehicle, but we don’t always have fuel. But whenever we ask the company, the bureaucracy in getting the fuel can be too long,” the officer alleged.
Since angry residents from the affected communities ransacked the concession area in July 2014, the government has deployed armed police to give support to the private security guards protecting the plant, though the police have complained of logistical support.
The proximity of the concession area to the Liberia/Guinea border remains another challenge for the security and even the company, a situation in which police have reported of rampant stealing of scrap metals by men believed to have come from neighboring Guinea.
Groups of concession companies operating in the country, along with those representing concession affected communities, known as MSPs, held their third annual national conference where both parties exchanged views of coordination and the challenges they faced while operating in the country.
The conference, which was organized by the National Bureau of Concession, brought together superintendents from the affected counties.
Bong County Superintendent Esther Walker called on MSPs’ members to uphold good behavior and be a role model in keeping peace in the affected communities. She said violence cannot solve problems, and therefore she called for good behavior among members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs).
“You are the one the community depends on for its protection, so get involved in negotiation by constructively engaging the political leaders,” Supt Walker said.