Another threatens Paynesville-Kakata Highway
By Richard Baysah and Alvin Worzi
Reports from the China Union operation area at the Bong Mining Company in Fuamah District, Lower Bong County speak of a mudslide that has destroyed the company’s crusher and conveyor belt at the plant. The Liberia News Agency (LINA) reported yesterday that the mudslide took place early Wednesday, September 13. There was, however, no report of any human casualty, but the incident caused substantial damage to the company’s crusher and conveyor belt, responsible to process the ore before it is shipped to the Freeport of Monrovia.
The China Union, a Chinese State Owned Enterprise, took over the concession area of the German mining company that halted its mining activities due to the Liberian civil crisis in the 90s. An employee, Franklin Tyler, is quoted by LINA as saying that the incident was accompanied by a sudden loud noise, from the direction of the crusher and conveyor belt.
The report said the mudslide happened as a result of a heavy downpour that forced mud from the top of the Bong Mountain Range.
The China Union Public Relations Officer, Morris Tate, confirmed damages to the company’s crusher and conveyor belt but noted that it will not stop the company’s operations.
Tate also said though the management of China Union was saddened by the incident, it equally grateful that there was no human casualty. The management is accessing the situation and is expected to subsequently come out with the total cost of damage to its facilities, he said.
This is the second mudslide in over 30 years in an iron ore mining concession, with the first occurring in September 1981 at the National Iron Ore Company, known as the “Camp No-way Disaster,” which left many people dead. In a related development, Rain Hill, located on the Monrovia-Kakata highway, in the vicinity of the 15-Gate community, has been described as a potential threat to residents and commuters who frequently use this busy thoroughfare.
Rain Hill had its first mudslide last year that covered the highway, according to Peter Kerkula, a private security officer for Lonestar Cell MTN Tower located on top of the hill. He said fear of imminent tragedy led a Chinese construction company to suspend its operations and later diverted traffic to complete its road construction. With the heavy downpour of rain in recent days, the hill’s residents have expressed concerns and are asking the government to intervene.
“We have witnessed a series of accidents in recent time with the latest being last week Saturday when a Kia motorbike from Monrovia fell and fortunately for the driver, there were no major injuries,” Kerkula said. According to him, the management of Lonestar Cell MTN has promised to relocate the tower to another location. “We have to climb on the top of the hill to check the equipment despite the level of danger it poses to us as part of our work. Commuters even speak about this danger and sometimes they ask us about the government’s intention for the hill,” he said.
Emmanuel Toe, a resident, said “The government needs to quickly do something about the situation to ensure that the road is safe as well as the people who are using it.” Toe said taking immediate action to reduce or level the hill in order to avoid any future mudslides is important because there have been some accidents due to the redirection of the road.
Jeremy Sheriff, a commercial driver, said many drivers have become victims of the road in needless accidents, and appealed to the government to find a solution to prevent any future disaster. “Our people are noted for doing nothing until the last minute after many people may have been victimized. The Liberian government needs to know that this is a major highway and such a danger has to be brought under control,” Sheriff said.