In an bid for peace and tranquility in the mining vicinity of Yekepah, citizens of Nimba County have called on the Government of Liberia to intervene in the alleged, ongoing indebtedness between steel giant ArcelorMittal and its sub-contractor company, Engineers and Planners (E&P).
E&P, a Ghanaian company, was contracted by Arcelor Mittal to carry out mining operations at its Tokadeh Mine — a two-year agreement that ends on December 31, 2013.
The management of E&P recently accused ArcelorMittal’s management of failing to settle with them for services they rendered the steel giant to the tune of several million U.S. dollars.
E&P also accused Mittal Steel of threatening E&P’s employees to go to work under the threat of being fired, though the employees are not under their jurisdiction.
ArcelorMittal has however rebuffed such claims, indicating that it does not owe E&P any money; instead, it is E&P that still owes them in services until the expiration of the contract which is on December 31, 2013. But E&P halted all operations at its Tokadeh mine on the 5th of December to the dismay of the management of ArcelorMittal.
The situation has further heightened tensions between some employees of E&P and their management, who are demanding December salaries and Christmas bonuses after allegedly ignoring the company’s halt action, “that would have compelled ArcelorMittal to settle her financial obligation.”
The situation has left the fate of about 189 personnel — all Liberian and legitimate employees of E&P — in limbo.
An ArcelorMittal contractor who begged anonymity said: “People always refer to Nimbaians as violent-minded people, so we do not want anything to happen in this place; let government intervene so the whole issue can be settled. Everyone is looking up to government to bring this situation to an end, so they must act swiftly."
“We learned that E&P wanted to take her equipment out of the mine; but they have been stopped by Mittal steel’s management on several occasions. Our government needs to intervene as quickly as possible to settle this matter or else we will have some problems in this area,” said Michael Zorlee, a resident of Yekepah.
“I want to call on the government through the relevant ministries such as Labor, Lands, Mines, and Energy, and Justice, to tackle this situation before it gets out of hand. Let those who are wrong be told they are wrong, and those who are right be told so,” he added.
Meanwhile, E&P Human Resource Manager, Harrison Agama, said the management of ArcelorMittal continues to prevent his company from transporting its equipment from the mines.
Mr. Agama said that they will no longer condone such acts and it will do all it takes to have their equipment transported to Monrovia.
He said that several former employees of E&P are threatening to seize the company’s equipment or vandalize their warehouse.
“ArcelorMittal has always paid E&P in line with the terms of the contract and on a timely basis. We make payments within 30 days, once a bill is received,” said ArcelorMittal’s Yekepa Communication Manager, Mr. Jerry Mwagbe.