Lawsuit Haunts Bong Development Council

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    Bong County electoral district # 7 Representative, Gorpu Barclay, has threatened a lawsuit against a decision reached at the Saturday, March 1, County Development Council meeting.

    The decision was reached to distribute 20 percent of a $2.7 million social responsibility package provided annually by China Union directly to affected communities as a means of realizing benefits in keeping with the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed with the Liberian Government in 2010.

    Representative Barclay in her argument claimed the 20 percent is directly intended for Fuamah and Sanoyea Districts on the grounds that the districts are more affected than Salala.

    On Saturday, March 1, at the Gbarnga Administration Building, delegates who attended the County Development Council sitting overwhelmingly voted and endorsed that the 20 percent be equitably distributed among Fuamah, Sanoyea and Salala.

    However, Representative Barclay also contended that the 20 percent should not be shared with Salala owing to the fact that Salala District is not being affected by China Union’s operations.

    “We will protest and seek legal interpretation on the matter. I ask my delegates from Fuamah not to pen their signatures on the resolution” Representative Barclay stated.

    Amid the overwhelming support of the delegates, who attended the meeting, 74 voted that the amount in question be distributed among the three districts; causing the delegates from Fuamah to walk away, including their Representative, Gorpu Barclay.

    Earlier, Representative Adam Bill Corneh from electoral # 6 –Salala— and Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, contended that Salala is among the districts affected by China Union and must get a share of the 20 percent provided by the company.

    The two lawmakers backed their argument by providing a diagram from the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy to the delegates indicating that Salala District is affected by China Union’s operation.

    Recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf placed a hold on the 20 percent of the company contribution to the affected communities until the affected areas could find common ground on how the money should be distributed.

    Bong County Legislative Caucus Chairman, Senator Henry W. Yallah, told the delegates that they, as Lawmakers, have tried in their capacity to resolve the issue but to no avail. Sen. Yallah was swift to inform the audience that they (lawmakers) agreed for the final decision to be made on the matter at the County Development Council sitting— the highest decision making body in the county as it relates to financial matters.  

    Bong County is receiving a little over US$ 2,784,000.00 annually as corporate social responsibilities provided by concessionaire companies operating in the county. Concessionaire companies operating in the county include, ArcerlorMittal, the world’s largest steel company provides US$ 500,000, and BHP Billiton, an Australian Mining Company gives US$ 100,000 with China Union offering US$ 1.7 M.

    BONG TECHNICAL COLLEGE

    The Bong County Technical College, the community college still under construction in Gbarnga, was allotted US$ 800,000.00 for its completion. A fact some concerned citizens described as laughable because, according to them, the building needs an additional US$3.5M to be completed. The amount of US$250,000 was allotted to the Gbarnga Streets Pavement feasibility study; an amount many citizens considered as huge for such a project.

    The community college, when completed, would benefit county inhabitants in pursuit of quality education.

    The Bong Technical College construction project is being implemented by the Chinese-Liberia United Construction Company with funding from the County Social Development Funds (CSDF) provided by concessionaire companies.

    Active work on the college started in September of 2010 with the agreement between the contractors and the county leadership detailing the first phase of the project made up of the school and administration buildings. It was supposed to have been completed in two years, but the deadline set by the contractor and the county leadership has since elapsed with only 55% of the building being completed.

    The President of the Bong County Technical College, Dr. John Flomo, described the US$ 800,000 for the college from the county leadership as drop in the ocean on the grounds that the amount would not complete the building.

    Dr. Flomo informed the county leadership that by 2015 the student population would have increased to more than one thousand; a number that the current building housing the college would not accommodate.

    The college is currently being housed at the William V. S. Tubman –Gray High School in Gbarnga.

    China Union —a Chinese Mining Company— entered into a US$ 2Billion investment with the Liberian Government in 2010. The company is currently mining iron ore from the Bong Range situated in Bong County.

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